Astrobotic Announces New Lunar Logistics HQ in Pittsburgh

The Astrobotic Mission Control will be the nerve center for the first U.S. mission to the lunar surface since Apollo. (Credit: Astrobotic)

Astrobotic to open new state-of-the-art, 47,000 square foot facility in May 2020 for the development of lunar landers and rovers

Pittsburgh, PA (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic proudly announces that it will open a new state-of-the-art headquarters for lunar logistics in May 2020. The 47,000 square foot facility in Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood of Manchester will house the company’s spacecraft integration cleanrooms, test facilities, lab spaces, rover test labs, payload operations room, and dedicated mission control. Astrobotic’s new headquarters is poised to become the epicenter for America’s return to the Moon.

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NASA, Public Marks Assembly of SLS Stage with Artemis Day

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine gives remarks on the agency’s Artemis program, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in front of the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NEW ORLEANS (NASA PR) — On Monday, Dec. 9, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine showed off the Space Launch System liquid-fueled rocket stage that will send the first Artemis mission to space. The core stage, built at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, is the largest NASA has produced since the Apollo Program.

NASA and the Michoud team will shortly send the first fully assembled, 212-foot-tall core stage to the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi aboard the Pegasus barge for final tests.

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Prototype Vest Could Help Protect Astronauts on Trips to Moon, Mars

Crystal Chamberlain, a technician at NASA’s Langley Research Center, works in a sewing lab to piece together a radiation protection vest prototype. (Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA has overcome many difficult engineering challenges when it comes to human spaceflight – one that remains is how to best protect astronauts from space radiation.

A team at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia is working on one potential solution – a next-generation wearable radiation protection garment to protect against solar particle events.

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Helping Heracles EL3 to Survive the Long, Cold, Dark Lunar Nights

Heracles lander and rover (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA has kicked off an activity with Prototec – a NORCE company – and its partners Airbus and Air Liquide to develop alternative technologies for surviving the lunar night

When the European Large Logistic Lander (EL3) lands on the Moon, some of its cargo might require to survive the lunar night that lasts up to two weeks on Earth.

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First NASA Parker Solar Probe Results Reveal Surprising Details About Our Sun

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The Sun is revealing itself in dramatic detail and shedding light on how other stars may form and behave throughout the universe – all thanks to NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. The spacecraft is enduring scorching temperatures to gather data, which are being shared for the first time in four new papers that illuminate previously unknown and only-theorized characteristics of our volatile celestial neighbor.

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Vikram Lander Wreckage Found on Lunar Surface

This image shows the Vikram Lander impact point and associated debris field. Green dots indicate spacecraft debris (confirmed or likely). Blue dots locate disturbed soil, likely where small bits of the spacecraft churned up the regolith. “S” indicates debris identified by Shanmuga Subramanian. This portion of the Narrow Angle Camera mosaic was made from images M1328074531L/R and M1328081572L/R acquired Nov. 11. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — The Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander was targeted for a highland smooth plain about 600 kilometers from the south pole; unfortunately the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost contact with their lander shortly before the scheduled touchdown (Sept. 7 in India, Sept. 6 in the United States).  Despite the loss, getting that close to the surface was an amazing achievement.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team released the first mosaic (acquired Sept. 17) of the site on Sept. 26 and many people have downloaded the mosaic to search for signs of Vikram. Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with a positive identification of debris. After receiving this tip, the LROC team confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images.

This before and after image ratio highlights changes to the surface; the impact point is near center of the image and stands out due the dark rays and bright outer halo. Note the dark streak and debris about 100 meters to the SSE of the impact point. Diagonal straight lines are uncorrected background artifacts. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

When the images for the first mosaic were acquired the impact point was poorly illuminated and thus not easily identifiable. Two subsequent image sequences were acquired on Oct. 14 and 15, and Nov. 11.

The LROC team scoured the surrounding area in these new mosaics and found the impact site (70.8810°S,  22.7840°E, 834 m elevation) and associated debris field. The November mosaic had the best pixel scale (0.7 meter) and lighting conditions (72° incidence angle).

Before and after images show the Vikram impact point. Changes to the surface are subtle and are more easily seen in the ratio image presented above. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

The debris first located by Shanmuga is about 750 meters northwest of the main crash site and was a single bright pixel identification in that first mosaic (1.3 meter pixels, 84° incidence angle). The November mosaic shows best the impact crater, ray and extensive debris field. The three largest pieces of debris are each about 2×2 pixels and cast a one pixel shadow.

NASA Teams Conduct Crucial SLS Booster Stacking Exercise

Teams practice Space Launch System booster stacking. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Teams from NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems and Space Launch System (SLS) practice SLS booster stacking with pathfinders inside Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building.

The goal of the training, which took place Nov. 18 through Nov. 20, was to practice booster segment mate. Using overhead cranes and booster handling activities, the teams focused on procedures for mating a center segment onto a cylinder that simulated another segment. The exercise was performed around the clock, operating three shifts per day.

SLS will launch the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024 through the Artemis program. For more information, click here.

Italy Boosts Contribution to ESA Budget

SEVILLE, Spain (ASI PR) — In Seville, Spain, the institutional representatives and heads of the countries that make up the European Space Agency (ESA) have set the course towards new spatial horizons in the coming years. The share of the Italian contribution rises, while Samantha Cristoforetti will return to orbit.

An increase of almost one billion euros [$1.1 billion] compared to the previous Ministerial is what the Italian delegation to the ESA Ministerial Council 2019 has destined as a contribution of our country to the budget of the ESA for the next three to four years. 

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Orion Arrives at Plum Brook for Environmental Testing

The Super Guppy is opened at dawn to reveal Orion spacecraft inside. (Credits: NASA/Bridget Caswell)

SANDUSKY, Ohio (NASA PR) — The Artemis I Orion spacecraft arrived at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, on Tuesday, Nov. 26 for in-space environmental testing in preparation for Artemis I.

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UK Invests in European Space Agency Programs

SEVILLE, Spain (UKSA PR) — The UK Space Agency has today (28 November) announced it will invest £374m [$411.75 million] per year with the European Space Agency (ESA) to deliver international space programmes over the next five years.

The UK is one of the founding members of ESA, an inter-governmental organisation established in 1975 to promote cooperation in space research, technology and applications development. ESA is independent of the EU, bringing together countries across Europe and around the world.

Membership enables the UK to collaborate with space agencies across the world on projects like the International Space Station and the ExoMars programme to send a UK-built rover to search for signs of life on Mars.

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Orion Spacecraft Arrives in Ohio Aboard the Super Guppy

The Super Guppy is opened at dawn to reveal Orion spacecraft inside. (Credits: NASA/Bridget Caswell)


MANSFIELD, Ohio (NASA PR) — Almost 1,500 people turned out Sunday, November 24 to watch NASA’s Super Guppy aircraft arrive at Mansfield Lahm Airport with the Orion spacecraft for Artemis I aboard.  After viewing exhibits, the crowd gathered at the flight line to await the aircraft.

At about 4:35 p.m. EST, the Guppy, which had traveled from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, appeared in the eastern sky on approach.

Super Guppy with Orion spacecraft aboard comes in for a landing. (Credits: NASA/Marvin Smith)

Once the Guppy touched down, there was a loud cheer from the crowd as it taxied to a stop for the night just as the sun began to set. 

The nose of the Guppy was opened at sunrise on Monday, November 25  revealing the packaged Orion spacecraft inside. It has been removed from the aircraft and is loaded onto a large flatbed trailer so it can be transported to NASA’s Plum Brook Station for testing.

Crowds gather to greet Super Guppy with Orion spacecraft aboard. (Credits: NASA/Marvin Smith)

Completed in two phases inside the world’s largest vacuum chamber, testing will begin with a thermal test, which will last approximately 60 days, while Orion’s systems are powered-on under vacuum conditions that simulate the space environment.

During this phase, the spacecraft will be subjected to extreme temperatures, ranging from -250 to 300-degrees Fahrenheit, to replicate flying in-and-out of sunlight and shadow in space. The second phase is an electromagnetic interference and compatibility test, lasting about 14 days. This testing will ensure the spacecraft’s electronics work properly when operated at the same time.

Super Guppy with Orion spacecraft inside parked on the tarmac in Ohio. (Credits: NASA/Bridget Caswell)

After successful completion, the spacecraft will return to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where it will begin integration with the powerful Space Launch System rocket for the Artemis I launch.

View more images of Orion’s arrival in Ohio.

NASA Shares Mid-Sized Robotic Lunar Lander Concept with Industry

Illustration shows the mid-sized lander on the lunar surface. (Credits: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — As NASA presses forward with the agency’s mission to the Moon, Mars and beyond, the development of top-tier technology is critical to success. With emphasis on lunar exploration and scientific investigation, the desire to deliver a wide variety of payloads to the Moon has increased.

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NASA IG: Decide Future of the International Space Station Soon

The International Space Station as it appears in 2018. Zarya is visible at the center of the complex, identifiable by its partially retracted solar arrays. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The sooner NASA can decide the future of the International Space Station (ISS), the easier it will be for the space agency to pursue its Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon by 2020, according to a new report from its Office of Inspector General (OIG).

“Whether NASA decides to extend, increase commercialization of, or retire the ISS, the timing of each of these decisions has a cascading effect on the funding available to support space flight operations in low Earth orbit, ambitions for establishing a permanent presence on the Moon, and ultimately sending humans to Mars,” the report stated.

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Astrobotic, Carnegie Mellon Selected for NASA Award for Cooperative Rovers

Astrobotic is one of 14 companies selected for NASA’s Tipping Point solicitation. This illustration depicts CubeRover, an ultra-light, modular and scalable commercial rover.(Credit: Astrobotic/Carnegie Mellon University)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected Astrobotic Technology and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for funding to continue development of technologies to enable groups of rovers to cooperatively explore the surface of other worlds.

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NASA Struggles with Shortage of Skilled Workers

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA is already hampered by a shortfall of skilled workers, a problem that will be exacerbated as the space agency gears up to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 in the Artemis program.

That is the conclusion of a new report from NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). The review identified attracting and retaining a highly-skilled workforce as one of the space agency’s seven biggest management and performance challenges. [Full Report]

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