NASA Announces Launch Delay for Psyche Asteroid Mission

This illustration depicts NASA’s Psyche spacecraft (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA announced Friday the Psyche asteroid mission, the agency’s first mission designed to study a metal-rich asteroid, will not make its planned 2022 launch attempt.

Due to the late delivery of the spacecraft’s flight software and testing equipment, NASA does not have sufficient time to complete the testing needed ahead of its remaining launch period this year, which ends on Oct. 11. The mission team needs more time to ensure that the software will function properly in flight.

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Rocket Lab Prepares to Launch CAPSTONE Mission to the Moon for NASA

Rocket Lab will launch a microwave oven-sized CubeSat dubbed CAPSTONE to a never-before-flown orbit around the Moon, blazing a new efficient deep space route that NASA hopes to use for future human spaceflight missions

Electron Launch Vehicle at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 for the NASA CAPSTONE lunar mission. (Image Credit: Business Wire)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab USA, Inc. PR) — Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, is preparing to launch a satellite to the Moon for NASA as early as June 27th.

The launch will take place from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. The launch window opens 09:50 UTC on June 27th (21:50 NZST, June 27th). Back-up opportunities are available through July 27th to accommodate potential weather or technical delays to the launch.

Designed and built by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, a Terran Orbital Corporation, and owned and operated by Advanced Space on behalf of NASA, the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat will be the first spacecraft to test the Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO) around the Moon. Researchers expect this orbit to be a gravitational sweet spot in space – where the pull of gravity from Earth and the Moon interact to allow for a nearly-stable orbit – allowing physics to do most of the work of keeping a spacecraft in orbit around the Moon. NASA has big plans for this unique type of orbit. The agency hopes to park bigger spacecraft – including the lunar-orbiting space station Gateway – in an NRHO around the Moon, providing astronauts with a base from which to descend to the lunar surface as part of the Artemis program.

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NASA Sets Live Launch Coverage for CAPSTONE Mission to Moon

CAPSTONE (Credit: Terran Orbital)

NASA Mission Update

NASA will air live launch coverage of the agency’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE), the first spacecraft to fly a specific unique lunar orbit ahead of future missions with crew.

CAPSTONE is targeted to launch no earlier than Monday, June 27, aboard a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand. The instantaneous launch opportunity is at 6 a.m. EDT (10:00 UTC). Live coverage will begin at 5 a.m. on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

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NASA Passes Go, Moves Toward Late August Artemis I Launch

Artemis I rocket rolls out to the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal on June 6, 2022. (Credit: NASA)

NASA has decided that the Space Launch System (SLS) wet dress rehearsal earlier this week that ended prematurely was sufficient for the agency to move forward with having the giant rocket launch an uncrewed Orion spacecraft to the moon later this summer.

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NASA Introduces 2022 Class of Flight Directors

A photo of NASA’s 2022 class of flight directors who will oversee operations of the International Space Station, commercial crew, and Artemis missions to the Moon. The inductees from left to right: Heidi Brewer, Ronak Dave, Garrett Hehn, Diana Trujillo, Elias Myrmo, Chris Dobbins, Nicole McElroy. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected seven new additions to the team of flight directors to oversee operations of the International Space Station, commercial crew, and Artemis missions to the Moon. The inductees in the class of 2022 include Heidi Brewer, Ronak Dave, Chris Dobbins, Garrett Hehn, Nicole McElroy, Elias Myrmo, and Diana Trujillo. 

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Spire Global Awarded $6 Million NASA Contract Extension for Earth Observation Data

Spire has provided reflectometry, radio occultation and other Earth observation data to NASA’s Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition (CSDA) Program since 2018

VIENNA, Va. (Spire Global, Inc. PR)Spire Global, Inc. (NYSE: SPIR) (“Spire” or “the Company”), a leading global provider of space-based data, analytics and space services, today announced it was awarded a $6 million, 12-month contract extension from NASA to continue its participation in the agency’s Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition (CSDA) Program.

Spire will continue to deliver a comprehensive catalog of Earth observation data, associated metadata, and ancillary information from its constellation of 100+ multipurpose satellites. The data provided will include:

  • Surface data, Spire’s GNSS Grazing Angle Reflectometry data (GNSS-R), to measure sea ice extent, classification and altimetry, soil moisture, and ocean surface wind speed;
  • Atmospheric data, Spire’s GNSS radio occultation (GNSS-RO) soundings, for weather forecast models to improve global weather forecasting accuracy;
  • Space weather offering measurements of electron density and scintillation that allow researchers to monitor the ionosphere as well as prepare for and react to weather events in space; and
  • Domain awareness including satellite state vector, altitude and precise orbit determination (POD) data to correct errors in orbital drag models.
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NASA Administrator Announces Next NAC Meeting, New Members

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced Wednesday the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) will convene its next meeting on August 9-10. Nelson also appointed new members to the NAC, who will provide leadership counsel and advice on agency programs and priorities.

“NASA remains a global leader in exploration as a result of having a world-class workforce and the NASA Advisory Council is no different,” said Nelson. “I am incredibly proud of the accomplishments and progress we’ve made to date, and these new additions to the NAC will bring new ideas and solutions to complex problems we face. We are in the midst of another banner year at the agency, and I look forward to hearing from and working with an exceptional NAC.”

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Intuitive Machines-led Team Awarded $5 Million for Fission Surface Power Solution

A Fission Surface Power (FSP) reactor landed on the Moon by an Intuitive Machines Nova-M spacecraft. (Credit: Intuitive Machines)

HOUSTON (Intuitive Machines PR) – The Department of Energy and NASA awarded IX, a joint venture between Intuitive Machines and X-energy, a contract to conduct a one-year study to mature the design of a Fission Surface Power (FSP) solution that will deliver at least 40 kWe power flight system to the Moon by 2028.

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NASA Announces Artemis Concept Awards for Nuclear Power on Moon

Artist’s concept of a fission power system on the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are working together to advance space nuclear technologies. The agencies have selected three design concept proposals for a fission surface power system design that could be ready to launch by the end of the decade for a demonstration on the Moon. This technology would benefit future exploration under the Artemis umbrella.

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Tyvak International, a Terran Orbital Company, Completes Critical Design Review of Deep Space Bound Milani Satellite

The nanosatellite will support the European Space Agency’s Hera Mission

Milani scans Didymos (Image Credit: ESA / Science Office)

TURIN, Italy (Terran Orbital Corporation PR) — Terran Orbital Corporation (NYSE: LLAP), a global leader in satellite solutions, primarily serving the aerospace and defense industries, today announced its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tyvak International SRL, has together with its partners, achieved full Critical Design Review of the Milani spacecraft. A critical component of the Hera planetary defense mission, Milani will be the European Space Agency’s (ESA) first deep-space nanosatellite. Milani will also be the first nanosatellite ever to orbit an asteroid. Tyvak International is responsible for Milani’s design, build, and mission operations. In this exploration, Tyvak International is joined by an excellent consortium of European industries and research centers from Finland, Czech Republic, and Italy.

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Artemis I Dress Rehearsal Ends at T-29s Mark

Artemis I rocket rolls out to the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal on June 6, 2022. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Mission Update

The Artemis I wet dress rehearsal ended today at 7:37 p.m. EDT at T-29 seconds in the countdown. Today’s test marked the first time the team fully loaded all the Space Launch System rocket’s propellant tanks and proceeded into the terminal launch countdown, when many critical activities occur in rapid succession.

During propellant loading operations earlier in the day, launch controllers encountered a hydrogen leak in the quick disconnect that attaches an umbilical from the tail service mast on the mobile launcher to the rocket’s core stage. The team attempted to fix the leak by warming the quick disconnect and then chilling it back down to realign a seal, but their efforts did not fix the issue.

Launch controllers then developed a plan to mask data associated with the leak that would trigger a hold by the ground launch sequencer, or launch computer, in a real launch day scenario, to allow them to get as far into the countdown as possible. The time required to develop the plan required extended hold time during the countdown activities, but they were able to resume with the final 10 minutes of the countdown, called terminal count. During the terminal count, the teams performed several critical operations  that must be accomplished for launch including switching control from the ground launch sequencer to the automated launch sequencer controlled by the rocket’s flight software, and important step that the team wanted to accomplish.

NASA will hold a media teleconference about the test Tuesday, June 21 at 11 a.m., which will stream on the agency’s website. A live feed of the rocket at launch pad continues to be available.

Cygnus Reboost of Space Station Aborted, Next Steps Being Planned

Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon Freedom; the Cygnus space freighter; the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship; and the Progress 80 and 81 resupply ships. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — On Monday at 10:20 a.m. Central time, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus NG CRS-17 engine was scheduled to fire for 5 minutes, 1 second to test the cargo craft’s ability to reboost the International Space Station in the future. The engine firing was aborted after five seconds. Cygnus’ Mission Director at Dulles, Virginia reported the cause for the abort is under review.

NASA and Northrop Grumman flight controllers are reviewing data from today’s attempt and will develop a plan for the next steps needed to continue development of this enhanced capability as a standard service for NASA.

The Expedition 67 crew, which was never in any danger, is continuing its regular regime of work aboard the complex, which is orbiting around 260 miles above the Earth.

NOAA’s JPSS-2 Satellite Completes Critical Testing Milestone

JPSS-2 satellite enters thermal vacuum chamber for testing. (Credit: NOAA)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — NOAA’s JPSS-2 satellite has cleared a critical testing milestone, bringing it a step closer to launch. Last week, the polar-orbiting satellite emerged from the chamber after completing its thermal vacuum testing. This test is meant to show that the spacecraft and all of its instruments will perform successfully when exposed to the harsh environments of space. 

“I can absolutely say with 100% certainty that the observatory is working great,” said JPSS Flight Project Manager Andre Dress. “All the instruments are performing great, and we’re going to meet all our requirements – and then some.”  

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Artemis I WDR Update: Countdown Progresses Overnight, Teams Remain On Track for Monday Tanking Operations

Artemis I rocket rolls out to the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal on June 6, 2022. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Program Update

The launch team is making its way through countdown operations and wet dress rehearsal activities remain on track. The mission management team will meet this afternoon to review the status of operations.

Overnight, engineers powered up the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System’s core stage. Teams also configured several systems on the ground, rocket, and spacecraft and performed activities to prepare umbilicals that connect the rocket and spacecraft to the mobile launcher and are used to provide power, communications, coolant, and propellant.

NASA is streaming live video of the rocket and spacecraft at Launch Pad 39B and will provide live commentary on the agency’s website beginning with tanking operations on June 20.

NASA Selects Small Business Award to Advance Microgravity Research & Manufacturing

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected four projects focused on advancing microgravity research and manufacturing in Earth orbit for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The Phase I awards, which are worth up to $150,000 apiece, were for projects proposed by: DSTAR Communications of Woodland Hills, Calif.; Sachi Bioworks of Louisville, Colo.; GOEPPERT of Philadelphia, Pa.; and Nanoarmor of Los Angeles, Calif.

DSTAR Communications is developing space-enhanced crystals that could be commercially manufactured on ISS.

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