MDA Awarded Initial Design Phase Contract for Lunar Rover

Engages expert pan-Canadian team of small businesses, scientists and academics

BRAMPTON, Ont. (MDA PR) — MDA Ltd. (TSX:MDA), a leading provider of advanced technology and services to the rapidly-expanding global space industry, today announced that it has been awarded a contract by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to undertake a Phase A initial design study for a Canadian Lunar Rover mission to the Moon.

As part of the CSA’s Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP), the Lunar Rover will advance eight key technologies that are foundational building blocks for planetary rovers, including mobility, communications, operations, thermal control for lunar night survival, power generation and storage, and semi-autonomous plus autonomous operations.

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Suborbital Testing Puts Moon-Bound Computing System Through its Paces

With a float duration of about four hours, a 2019 high-altitude balloon flight with World View Enterprises enabled the MSU team to evaluate RadPC’s tolerance to radiation over a longer period of time. (Credits: World View Enterprises)

By Nicole Quenelle
NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center

EDWARDS, Calif. — As you read this article, you don’t need to worry that cosmic radiation might destroy the computer displaying it. That’s because the Earth’s atmosphere provides protection against such radiation. However, for astronauts relying on computing systems in space, cosmic radiation is a real concern. This is why NASA is supporting tests of radiation-tolerant computing systems on suborbital vehicles – and eventually on the Moon.

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Action! Filming a Simulated Lunar Landing From the Dusty Desert Floor

Zandef Deksit’s ExoCam in its metal cage rests on the desert surface of Mojave, California. Masten Space Systems’s Xodiac VTVL vehicle can be seen in the ExoCam’s viewfinder and in the distance. (Credits: Jason Achilles Mezilis/Zandef Deksit, Inc.)

By Nicole Quenelle
NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center

MOJAVE, Calif. — Video capture during future lunar landings could play an important role in contributing to researchers’ understanding of disturbances in lunar surface materials – called regolith – caused by the lander’s rocket plume. With support from NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, on Oct. 14, 2021, researchers from Los Angeles-based Zandef Deksit put a high-tech video capture and regolith sensor payload called ExoCam to the test. The desert environment of Mojave, California, provided a stand-in for the surface of the Moon, and the Xodiac vertical takeoff vertical landing (VTVL) platform from Masten Space Systems was the test vehicle.

Simulating the movement of a lunar lander, the VTVL vehicle enabled researchers from Zandef Deksit and co-investigators from Honeybee Robotics to test an ejection mechanism to jettison the ExoCam onto the desert surface at specific altitudes just before landing. Along with calculations to account for lunar gravity, this helped the team understand the limit of how far from a planetary surface they would need to eject the payload in order for it to survive landing and function properly.

Once on the ground, the payload’s camera captured video footage from the unique vantage point of the desert surface. The ExoCam also utilized a regolith sensor developed by co-investigators at Arizona State University to capture data about the quantity of regolith particles picked up by the vehicle’s rocket plume, as well as the speed at which they were propelled as the lander descended onto the surface.

About Flight Opportunities

Flight Opportunities rapidly demonstrates promising technologies for space exploration, discovery, and the expansion of space commerce through suborbital testing with industry flight providers. The program is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington, and managed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the solicitation and evaluation of technologies to be tested and demonstrated on commercial flight vehicles.

NASA Selects Three Winners in Inaugural TechLeap Prize Challenge

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA seeks to improve a variety of Earth and space-based capabilities, including detecting and tracking wildfires, identifying plumes of gas venting into Earth’s atmosphere, and precision tracking of small spacecraft positions in orbit. The NASA TechLeap Prize is helping to advance these types of technologies for space exploration and Earth observation.

The agency has named three winners in the first TechLeap Prize competition, Autonomous Observation Challenge No. 1. The proposed solutions will help rapidly advance small spacecraft technologies for autonomous observation of events on Earth and beyond, as well as improve communications and computing power in small spacecraft applications. The winning teams will each receive an initial $200,000 prize they can use to begin building their payloads for a later suborbital flight test.

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Blue Canyon Technologies Delivers First of Four CubeSats to NASA’s Ames for Starling Technology Demo

LAFAYETTE, Colo., October 20, 2021 (Blue Canyon PR) — Small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies LLC (“BCT” or “Blue Canyon”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, delivered the first of four 6U CubeSats to NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. The CubeSats will support a technology demonstration called Starling. NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate funds the demonstration. Under the current contract agreement, in addition to designing and manufacturing the spacecraft buses, BCT will also provide engineering and support to Starling mission operations for the four flight-qualified 6U CubeSats.

“The delivery of CubeSats will allow Ames to continue with payload integration and testing of the integrated flight unit,” said Stephanee Borck, senior program manager at Blue Canyon Technologies. “A lot of hard work from both teams has gone into making it thus far in the project. We look forward to delivering the next three CubeSats and seeing what the technology demonstration can do on-orbit.”

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Rocket Lab Selected to Launch NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System

Advanced Composite Solar Sail System on NanoAvionics’ 12U CubeSat. (Credit: NanoAvionics)

The Electron rocket will deploy an innovative satellite designed to test new deployable structures and materials technologies for solar sail propulsion systems, paving the way for sunlight to power future deep space exploration

LONG BEACH, Calif., October 6, 2021 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today announced it has been selected to launch NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System, or ACS3, on the Electron launch vehicle.

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NASA’s Artemis Rover to Land Near Nobile Region of Moon’s South Pole

A data visualization showing the mountainous area west of Nobile Crater and the smaller craters that litter its rim at the lunar South Pole. The region features areas permanently covered in shadow as well as areas that are bathed in sunlight most of the time. The terrain in the Nobile region is most suitable for the VIPER rover to navigate, communicate, and characterize potential water and other resources. (Credits: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — In 2023, NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) will land near the western edge of the Nobile Crater at the Moon’s South Pole to map and explore the region’s surface and subsurface for water and other resources. Part of Artemis, VIPER will launch on a SpaceX Falcon-Heavy rocket for delivery to the Moon by Astrobotic’s Griffin lander under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative.

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NASA Empowers Workforce to Advance Deep Space Technologies

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 10 proposals led by early-career employees across the agency for two-year projects that will support the development of new capabilities for deep space human exploration.

These proposals were selected under Project Polaris, a new initiative to support the NASA workforce in efforts to meet the challenges of sending humans to the Moon and Mars. Project Polaris seeks to fill high-priority capability gaps on deep space missions like those planned under Artemis and introduce new technologies into human exploration flight programs. The project also aims to create opportunities for early-career employees across NASA centers to gain experience building and testing flight hardware while developing technologies and reducing risk for future human exploration missions.

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Gateway Vehicle Systems Management Demonstration Completed

Illustration of NASA’s lunar-orbiting Gateway and a human landing system in orbit around the Moon. (Credit: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — The Advanced Exploration Systems’ (AES) Autonomous Systems and Operations (ASO) team, including members from NASA Ames’ Intelligent Systems Division, developed and demonstrated new technologies designed to automate the operation of Gateway, a key element of the Artemis mission. (Gateway will be an outpost orbiting the Moon that provides vital support for a long-term human return to the lunar surface, as well as a staging point for deep space exploration.)

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NASA to Announce Landing Site for Artemis Lunar Robotic Rover

NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is a mobile robot that will roam around the Moon’s south pole looking for water ice. The VIPER mission will give us surface-level detail of where the water is and how much is available for us to use. This will bring us a significant step closer towards NASA’s ultimate goal of a sustainable, long-term presence on the Moon – making it possible to eventually explore Mars and beyond. (Credit: NASA Ames/Daniel Rutter)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley invites members of the news media to a media teleconference Monday, Sept. 20 at 1 p.m. PDT, to announce the lunar landing site for the agency’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER. Ames manages the VIPER mission, and leads the mission’s science, systems engineering, real-time rover surface operations, and flight software.

The rover will be delivered to the Moon’s surface in late 2023 under the Artemis program and part of the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative.

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NASA Technologies Slated for Testing on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

New Shepard launch (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

By Elizabeth DiVito
NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program

VAN HORN, Texas — While there won’t be humans on Blue Origin’s 17th New Shepard mission, the fully reusable launch vehicle will carry technologies from NASA, industry, and academia aboard. The agency’s Flight Opportunities program supports six payload flight tests, which are slated for lift off no earlier than Aug. 26 from the company’s Launch Site One in West Texas.

For some innovations, this is just one of several tests supported by NASA on different flight vehicles. Iterative flight testing helps quickly ready technologies that could eventually support deep space exploration.

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NASA Selects Leidos for Lifecycle Mission Support at Ames Research Center

RESTON, Va., August 19, 2021 (Leidos PR) – Leidos (NYSE:LDOS), a FORTUNE® 500 science and technology leader, was awarded the Fully Integrated Lifecycle Mission Support Services 2 (FILMSS 2) contract by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to provide program, science, engineering, operations and project management support at the agency’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California. The single award cost-plus fixed-fee and indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract holds an approximate value of $270 million. It includes a two-year base period and three one-year options.

“For decades, Ames has accelerated scientific discovery through global research and collaboration,” said Jim Moos, Leidos Civil Group president. “As a company founded and fueled by science, we are pleased to continue supporting critical research missions that will advance human exploration in deep space.”

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Rocket Lab to Launch NASA Funded Commercial Moon Mission from New Zealand

Photon CAPSTONE spacecraft (Credit: Rocket Lab)

LONG BEACH, Calif., August 6, 2021 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, the leading launch and space systems company, today announced it will launch the CAPSTONE mission to the Moon from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand from Q4 2021. It will be Rocket Lab’s first launch to the Moon. CAPSTONE (the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment) aids NASA’s Artemis program, which includes landing the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon and establishing a long-term presence there.

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CAPSTONE’s CubeSat Prepares for Lunar Flight

The CAPSTONE team performs the full mission rehearsal of the propulsion hardware, with the qualification unit located in middle of the test stand. First, the propulsion tank is fueled with hydrazine propellant which requires the specialized protection for the operator (Level A encapsulated suits provide breathing and vapor protection for the Stellar engineers, Andrew Carlson and Sean Liston). Once the tank is filled with propellant, the full mission sequence is executed using the simulated satellite avionics and software. (Credits: Stellar Exploration)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Small spacecraft will play a big role in lunar exploration, including a Moon-bound CubeSat launching later this year.

The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, mission team is making the final preparations for the spacecraft that will make CubeSat history over a series of technological and operational firsts for the small platform. 

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Inflatable Heat Shield One Step Closer to 2022 Demonstration

The flexible thermal protection system contains two outer surface layers made of ceramic fiber fabric, several layers of insulator, and then a gas barrier that prevents hot gases from getting to directly to the inflatable structure. The inflatable structure is a high temperature capable, flexible structure that is inflated to provide the cone shape that the FTPS drapes over. (Credits: NASA/Greg Swanson)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — A NASA technology that could one day help land humans on Mars is about to head into final integration and testing before a sub-orbital flight test next year.

Two key components of the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) are complete and recently arrived at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. At Langley, engineers will test the complete system to ensure LOFTID is flight ready.

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