ESA Completes Inquiry into ExoMars Schiaparelli Failure

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) imaged the ExoMars Schiaparelli module’s landing site on 25 October 2016, following the module’s arrival at Mars on 19 October. The zoomed insets provide close-up views of what are thought to be several different hardware components associated with the module’s descent to the martian surface. These are interpreted as the front heatshield, the parachute and the rear heatshield to which the parachute is still attached, and the impact site of the module itself. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The inquiry into the crash-landing of the ExoMars Schiaparelli module has concluded that conflicting information in the onboard computer caused the descent sequence to end prematurely.

The Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator module separated from its mothership, the Trace Gas Orbiter, as planned on 16 October last year, and coasted towards Mars for three days.

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NASA FY 2018 Budget Fact Sheet

The President’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget
Maintains NASA’s world leadership in space and increases cooperation with industry.

NASA Fact Sheet

NASA’s budget ensures our nation remains the world’s leader in space exploration and technology, aeronautics research and discovery in space and Earth science. The budget supports developing the technologies that will make future space missions more capable and affordable, including partnerships with the private sector for a variety of activities, such as transportation of crew and cargo to the International Space Station. The budget also continues the development of the Orion crew vehicle, Space Launch System and Exploration Ground Systems that will send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit in the early 2020’s. The budget also keeps the Webb Telescope on track for a 2018 launch; builds on our scientific discoveries and achievements in space; and supports the Administration’s commitment to serve as a catalyst for the growth of a vibrant American commercial space industry.
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SpaceX Dragon to Deliver Research to Space Station

Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA) technology undergoes testing (Credits: Deployable Space Systems, Inc.)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Dragon spacecraft for its eleventh commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station June 1 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s historic pad 39A. Dragon will lift into orbit atop the Falcon 9 rocket carrying crew supplies, equipment and scientific research to crewmembers living aboard the station.

The flight will deliver investigations and facilities that study neutron stars, osteoporosis, solar panels, tools for Earth-observation, and more. Here are some highlights of research that will be delivered to the orbiting laboratory:

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Cube Quest Challenge Spotlight: Team Miles

A plume from thruster testing of Team Miles’ CubeSat. The Miles mission will be flown autonomously by an onboard computer system and propelled by evolutionary plasma thrusters. (Credit: Team Miles)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — For Team Miles and their CubeSat entry, it’s about propelling citizen science to the moon…and beyond.

The breadbox-size Miles is a 6U satellite built to navigate into deep space.

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Trump Eyes Half Billion Dollar Cut in NASA’s Budget

President Donald Trump would cut $561 million from NASA’s budget for fiscal year 2018 under a spending plan set for release next week, according to a leaked budget document.

NASA would see its budget reduced from $19.6 billion this year to just below $19.1 billion. The space agency received just under $19.3 billion in fiscal year 2016.

The total budget is close to the $19.1 billion contained in a budget blueprint the Trump Administration released in March. The blue print provided guidance for the formal budget proposal to be released next week.

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Nanotechnology Flight Test: Material Impact on the Future

A Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket with the SubTec-7 payload launches frm NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on May 16, 2017. (Credit: NASA Wallops)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — Mastering the intricacies of controlling matter at the nanoscale level is part of a revolutionary quest to apply nanotechnology to benefit industrial processes. A key element of that technology is the use of carbon nanotubes.

Carbon nanotubes are small hollow tubes with diameters of 0.7 to 50 nanometers and lengths generally in the tens of microns. While ultra-small, carbon nanotubes offer big-time attributes.

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NASA Ask Scientists to Think of Ideas for Europa Landing Instruments

NASA’s Europa Clipper mission is being designed to fly by the icy Jovian moon multiple times and investigate whether it possesses the ingredients necessary for life. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA is asking scientists to consider what would be the best instruments to include on a mission to land on Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa.

NASA Wednesday informed the science community to prepare for a planned competition to select science instruments for a potential Europa lander.

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Senators To Trump Administration: Do Not Hurt Workforce By Cutting NASA Education Funding


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, are leading a group of 32 Senators in a letter urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to support NASA’s Office of Education in the coming fiscal year. President Trump’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) would eliminate NASA’s Office of Education, which works to inspire and educate students across the country to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  In Virginia, funding from NASA’s Office of Education enables students to explore careers in STEM-related fields at NASA Langley, NASA Wallops, and in Virginia’s robust technology sector.

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GAO: Boeing & SpaceX Face Potential Further Delays in Commercial Crew Certification

Astronaut Eric Boe evaluates Boeing Starliner spacesuit in mockup of spacecraft cockpit. (Credit: Boeing)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says NASA’s commercial crew contractors face potential further delays into 2019 for certifying their vehicles to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on a commercial basis.

“Boeing has proposed moving its certification review out to the fourth quarter of 2018—at least 14 months later than initially planned,” the report states. “SpaceX has moved its certification review to the third quarter of 2018—at least 15 months later than initially planned.
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GAO: Improvements in NASA Cost & Schedule Performance Might Not Be Sustainable

The LEMNOS project will provide laser communications services to NASA’s Orion vehicle, show in this artist concept. (Credit: NASA)

A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that NASA while has continued to improve its cost and schedule performance on major projects, the space agency might not be able to sustain the trend much longer due to projects such as the Space Launch System and Orion.

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Explore Mars Issues Report with Findings & Recommendations

The Humans to Mars Report 2017

Explore Mars, Inc.
Full Report (PDF)

Findings

  • The wide range of architectures for the exploration of Mars and the credibility of the institutions and companies producing them demonstrate both the wide interest in Mars exploration and the positive opinions of the viability of current technology to achieve it.
  • Mars exploration architectures must consider and address affordability, including how the architecture will return appropriate value to its stakeholders, as a fundamental requirement for credibility.
  • Sustainability is also a fundamental requirement and will be driven by, besides affordability, international and commercial partnerships. To effectively engage these partners, clear consideration of their contributions and objectives must be made.
  • A well-defined set of accepted scientific objectives will anchor coordination between the human spaceflight and science communities and ensure the widest possible support for human exploration of Mars.
  • Timely identification of strategic knowledge gaps and a robust technology demonstration program is needed to mature systems for Mars explorations. Testing systems at the International Space Station and in cislunar space would provide valuable operations experience for Mars systems.
  • Robotic reconnaissance of Mars from orbit and on the surface is needed to finalize selection of landing sites and inform technology development and system design.
  • The ongoing discussion and development of systems and architectures for deep space exploration is valuable with each idea contributing new perspectives and possibilities. Architecture choices must be rational and transparent to maximize participation. Open and wide ranging discussion will produce the strongest possible Mars architecture.
  • Mars is achievable.

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Sounding Rocket Mission May 16 Providing Real-World Test for New Technologies

Photo caption: SubTec7 payload undergoes final testing and evaluation at Wallops. (Credit: NASA/Berit Bland)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — New rocket and spacecraft technology can be tested on the ground, such as in labs.  However, in some cases a new technology needs to be flight tested to see how it performs in the “real-world” environment.

A NASA sounding rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on May 16 will provide the flight testing needed for 24 experiments and new technologies.

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SpaceX Weighing Sending 2 Red Dragon Missions to Mars in 2020

Red Dragon enters Mars atmosphere. (Credit: SpaceX)

NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green said on Tuesday that SpaceX plans to launch two Red Dragon missions to Mars during the 2020 launch window.

“Every 26 months, the highway to Mars opens up, and that highway is going to be packed. We start out at the top of that opportunity with a SpaceX launch of Red Dragon. That will be followed at the end of that opportunity with another Red Dragon. Those have been announced by SpaceX,” Green said during an appearance at the Humans to Mars Summit in Washington, DC.

The Red Dragon is a modified version of the Dragon spacecraft SpaceX uses to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. SpaceX will send these automated vehicles to the surface as a precursor to human missions it wants to fly in the 2020’s.

SpaceX has announced that it will send a Red Dragon to the surface in 2020.  However, Elon Musk’s company has said nothing publicly about a second spacecraft. Red Dragons are designed to perform automated descent, entry and landings on the martian surface.

SpaceX had planned to launch the first Red Dragon mission in 2018. However, the effort was pushed back two years due to the company’s other commitments, which include commercial cargo and crew missions for NASA and a backed up launch manifest caused, in part, by two Falcon 9 failures.

The inaugural flight test of the Falcon Heavy booster that will launch the Red Dragon spacecraft has also been delayed for more than four years. That test is currently scheduled for the third quarter of 2017.

NASA is providing about $30 million in in-kind support for the first Red Dragon flight in exchange for entry data. The space agency’s support includes trajectory analysis and tracking and communications via the Deep Space Network.

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