SSTL & Goonhilly Sign Agreement With ESA for Commercial Lunar Missions

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Surrey Satellite PR) — Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have signed a collaboration agreement for Commercial Lunar Mission Support Services at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs today. This innovative commercial partnership for exploration between ESA, GES and SSTL aims to develop a European lunar telecommunications and navigation infrastructure, including the delivery of payloads and nanosats to lunar orbit.

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Astrobotic, Surrey Satellite & Goonhilly Agreed to Expand Lunar Communications Opportunities

A mission concept to enter and explore a skylight on the Moon using Tyrobot. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. & CORNWALL/GUILDFORD, UK (Surrey Satellite/Astrobotic/GES PR) — Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) and Astrobotic today announce an agreement to collaborate on delivering a roadmap of innovations that support organisations carrying out operations on and around the Moon.

The trio jointly announced their landmark partnership at the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. The agreement formalises a long-term close working relationship between the three organisations with the aim of deploying leading edge in-space communication relay services.

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NIAC Phase I Awards for Advanced Surface Operations

Graphic depiction of Biobot: Innovative Offloading of Astronauts for More Effective Exploration (Credits: D. Akin)

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at two Phase I awards focused on surface operations on other worlds.

Myco-architecture off planet: growing surface structures at destination
Lynn Rothschild
NASA Ames Research Center

Biobot: Innovative Offloading of Astronauts for More Effective Exploration
David Akin
University of Maryland, College Park

Each award is worth up to $125,000 for a nine-month study. Descriptions of the awards are below.
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Tour of the Moon in 4K

Video Caption: Take a virtual tour of the Moon in all-new 4K resolution, thanks to data provided by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. As the visualization moves around the near side, far side, north and south poles, we highlight interesting features, sites, and information gathered on the lunar terrain.

Music Provided By Killer Tracks: “Never Looking Back” – Frederick Wiedmann. “Flying over Turmoil” – Benjamin Krause & Scott Goodman.

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4619

A Closer Look at NIAC Phase II Awards for Asteroids & Moons

Graphic depiction of Triton Hopper: Exploring Neptune’s Captured Kuiper Belt Object (Credits: Steven Oleson)

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at the following three Phase II awards focused on new ways of exploring asteroids and moons.

Dismantling Rubble Pile Asteroids with AoES (Area-of-Effect Soft-bots)
Jay McMahon
University of Colorado, Boulder

Triton Hopper: Exploring Neptune’s Captured Kuiper Belt Object
Steven Oleson
NASA Glenn Research Center

NIMPH: Nano Icy Moons Propellant Harvester
Michael VanWoerkom
ExoTerra Resource

Each award is worth up to $500,000 for a two-year study. Descriptions of the awards are below.
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Google Lunar X Prize is Back — Without Google & Without a Prize

The moon rising over Half Moon Bay. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

LOS ANGELES, April 5, 2018 (XPRIZE PR) — Today, XPRIZE announced their plan to continue the Lunar XPRIZE mission, with a re-launch of a new Lunar-focused competition.

Effective today, the Lunar XPRIZE will operate as a non-cash competition. Over the next few months, XPRIZE will define new parameters for companies to compete in the prize.

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White House Report Recommends Steps to Preserve Apollo Moon Landing Sites

Apollo 11 astronauts trained on Earth to take individual photographs in succession in order to create a series of frames that could be assembled into panoramic images. This frame from Aldrin’s panorama of the Apollo 11 landing site is the only good picture of mission commander Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

When the Apollo astronauts visited the moon nearly 50 years ago, they left behind a treasure trove of abandoned equipment and supplies on the surface ranging from the lunar module descent stage to electric cars and even uneaten food.

With both governments and private companies eyeing a return to the moon, the U.S. government is working on strategies to not only preserve these sites for historical purposes, but to use them to support the next stage of human exploration of the lunar surface, according to a new White House report.

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‘Marsquakes’ Could Shake Up Planetary Science

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Starting next year, scientists will get their first look deep below the surface of Mars.

That’s when NASA will send the first robotic lander dedicated to exploring the planet’s subsurface. InSight, which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, will study marsquakes to learn about the Martian crust, mantle and core.

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Be a Flight Director: NASA Accepting Applications for Mission Control Leaders

NASA flight controllers. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — How would you like to sit at the helm of human spaceflight, responsible for the success of missions and the highly trained teams of engineers and scientists that make them possible? NASA is hiring new flight directors for just this job at its mission control at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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Borman & Lovell Celebrate 90th Birthdays

Apollo 8 crew members William Anders, Frank Borman and Jim Lovell on the carrier after their mission. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Parabolic Arc would like to extend belated birthday wishes to Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, who both celebrated their 90th birthdays this month. Lovell’s birthday was Sunday, and Borman celebrated his latest trip around the sun on March 14.

The two nonagenarians, who were crew mates on Gemini 7 and Apollo 8, are the oldest of the surviving Apollo astronauts. The rest of their compatriots are all in the 80’s.

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Updated Global Launch Schedule Through April

Expedition 55 crew members Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. (Credit: NASA)

Below is the updated launch schedule through the end of April. The 17 scheduled launches include:

  • 7 USA (6 Falcon 9, 1 Atlas V)
  • 4 Russia (1 Soyuz, 1 Soyuz-2.1, 1 Proton, 1 Rockot)
  • 3 India (2 GSLV Mk.2, 1 PSLV)
  • 2 China (2 Long March 3B)
  • 1 Europe (1 Ariane 5).

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NASA Seeks Ideas to Advance Toward Human-Class Lunar Landers

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

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is leading a renewed effort to explore areas near and on the Moon to increase our knowledge about Earth’s nearest neighbor, and prepare for human missions deeper into the solar system. The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway will open opportunities for science, exploration and commercial industry from lunar orbit. In addition, access to the lunar surface will be a key component of this effort, requiring a plan to incrementally increase the size of payloads that can be delivered to the surface.

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Astrobotic Awarded NASA Contract to Develop CubeRover for Lunar Missions

CubeRover on the moon (Credit: Astrobotic)

Pittsburgh, PA (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, has been selected by NASA for a Phase II SBIR Award to develop CubeRover, a class of 2-kg rover platform capable of small-scale science and exploration on the Moon and other planetary surfaces. This new small rover platform complements Astrobotic’s lunar payload delivery service by providing a low-cost mobility capability to the lunar surface for customers around the world.

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Trump Calls for Space Force, Says We’re Going to Mars

Let me do a little fact checking in this 58 second clip.

Trump: “You see the rockets going up left and right. You haven’t seen that for a long time.”

— The U.S. has been number 1 or 2 in terms of launches for many years. And it has experienced far fewer failures than Russia over the past decade. Our launch rate is increasing thanks to SpaceX, but Trump’s claim that we were somehow lagging is ridiculous.

Trump: “Very soon, we’re going to Mars.”

— Umm…no, we’re not. The moon. Remember? We’re going back to the moon. You signed an executive order saying that like three months ago.

Trump: “You wouldn’t have been going to Mars if my opponent won. That I can tell you. You wouldn’t even be thinking about it.”

— To REPEAT: We’re NOT going to Mars with you in charge. At least not anytime soon.

Trump: “You know, I was saying the other day because we’re doing a tremendous amount of work in space, maybe we need a new force, we’ll call it the space force. And I was not really serious, and then I said, ‘What a great idea. Maybe we’ll have to do this.'”

— OK so, I seem to recall this proposal was debated for months and eventually rejected. So, it’s not a new idea Trump magically came up with just the other day. And the time to weigh in to support it was a couple of months ago. It’s kind of what presidents are supposed to do.