One-Year Space Station Mission Will Involve Extensive Scientific Experiments


HOUSTON (NASA )PR) — “That’s one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind.”  When Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon, many strides came before to achieve that moment in history.  The same is true for a human mission to Mars.  One step towards that journey begins in March 2015, when NASA astronaut Scott Kelly will make history as the first American to spend a year in space.

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U.S., India to Deepen Cooperation in Space


india-flagPresident Barack Obama is on a state visit to India. The U.S. and Indian governments released a joint statement focusing on areas of cooperation, including enhanced cooperation in space. The following are excerpts from the statement.

The Prime Minister and the President acknowledged and expressed satisfaction at the qualitative reinvigoration of strategic ties and the intensity of substantive interactions since the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington in September 2014.  They appreciated the focused action and accomplishments by both sides on the decisions taken during the Summit in September and in this regard, they welcomed:

  • The 30 September 2014 signing of an implementing agreement between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to conduct the joint NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission.

President Obama and Prime Minister Modi agreed to further promote cooperative and commercial relations between India and the United States in the field of space.  The leaders noted the on-going interactions between their space agencies, including towards realizing a dual frequency radar imaging satellite for Earth Sciences, and exploring possibilities for cooperation in studying Mars.

The Leaders took note of ongoing U.S.-India space cooperation, including the first face-to-face meeting of the ISRO-NASA Mars Working Group from 29-31 January 2015 in Bangalore, in which the two sides will consider opportunities for enhanced cooperation in Mars exploration, including potential coordinated observations and analysis between ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission and NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission (MAVEN).  The Prime Minister and the President also welcomed continued progress toward enhanced space cooperation via the U.S.-India Civil Space Joint Working Group, which will meet later this year in India.

Hawaiian Students to Work With NASA on Lunar Surface Experiment

Electrodynamic dust shield (Credit: PISCES)

Electrodynamic dust shield (Credit: PISCES)

HILO, Hawaii (PISCES PR) — The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) has signed a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), formally establishing a partnership to jointly work on a Hawaii high school STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) project that will give students the opportunity to develop a space experiment and send it to the surface of the Moon.

The experiment involves electrodynamic dust shield (EDS) technology. Under the Space Act Agreement, KSC will mentor the selected Hawaii students. This includes consulting them on the physics of the EDS; the design, development, and construction of mounting and integration hardware; and testing and analysis of a flight experiment configuration.

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NASA, Space Coast EDC Announce Strategic Technology Alliance

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

Regional economic development agreement makes
NASA innovations available to local companies

Brevard County, Fla. (January 21, 2015) – NASA and Space Coast EDC are partners in a new strategic alliance designed to bring cutting-edge technology, resources and expertise to solve manufacturing and technology challenges across a wide spectrum of industries. From aerospace to the most basic manufacturing operations, this alliance will provide applied technology solutions to accelerate regional economic growth on the Space Coast. Powered by NASA and EDC, this regional initiative is part of NASA’s national pilot program for Regional Economic Development (RED and seeks to provide small and medium-sized manufacturers and technology-based companies with access to NASA’s subject matter experts, advanced technologies, and capabilities drawing on NASA resources both at the Kennedy Space Center and across the nation.

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NASA, Boeing & SpaceX Discuss Plan for Launching American Astronauts


HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA, Boeing and SpaceX will hold a news briefing on NASA Television at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston at noon EST (11 a.m. CST) Monday, Jan. 26, to highlight key development activities, test plans and objectives for achieving certification of two American crew transportation systems.

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Video: NASA, Scott Kelly Get SOTU Shout Outs From President Obama


President Barack Obama recognizes NASA and Astronaut Scott Kelly at the 2015 State of the Union Address.

Video Look at Upcoming Year-Long Mission on ISS


Video Caption: The launch of Soyuz TMA-16M will return three veteran space fliers to the International Space Station, with two of them embarking on the first ever yearlong mission to this vehicle.

NanoRacks: The Fastest Space Manifester in the West


nano_racks_logoWebster, TX—January 13 2014 — NanoRacks successfully manifested payloads onto SpaceX-5 in record time: nine days. Historically, it takes months, years even, to successfully manifest a payload for delivery to the International Space Station. But that speed is too slow for the agile commercial space industry.

NanoRacks was able to manifest CubeSats under a nine day deadline, and MixStix experiments in under one-month. That’s how little time there was to manifest payloads onto SpaceX-5 after the loss of Orb-3, and the company, working side by side with NASA and our customers, made it happen.

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GAO Releases Document Explaining Rejection of Sierra Nevada Protest


The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a redacted version of its decision rejecting Sierra Nevada’s protest of NASA’s award of commercial crew contracts to Boeing and SpaceX.

“In sum, our review of Sierra Nevada’s challenges and the underlying evaluation record in this case provides no basis on which our Office would sustain the protest,” the document concludes. “In our view, the SEB [source evaluation board] reports and SSD [source selection decision] demonstrate an evaluation of schedule and the agency’s 2017 goal consistent with the plain terms of the RFP [request for proposal].

“The agency’s evaluation of the realism of SpaceX’s low price, and its available financial resources, was similarly consistent with the terms of the RFP. Finally, our review of the record shows that the agency’s evaluation under the mission suitability and past performance evaluation factors was reasonable, and did not reflect unequal treatment of the proposals,” the document reads.

The decision also includes the following synopsis of the specific protests that were denied:

  1. Protest that the agency improperly elevated the importance of a solicitation goal to a de facto requirement is denied where the evaluation was consistent with the stated criteria.
  2. Protest challenging the agency’s determination that the awardee’s fixed price was realistic is denied where the agency reasonably considered various factors supporting the awardee’s low price.
  3. Protest of the agency’s technical evaluation is denied where the evaluation was reasonable, consistent with the stated criteria, and not unequal.
  4. Protest of the agency’s past performance evaluation is denied where the agency conducted a reasonable evaluation of the offeror’s past performance references, and gave effect to all elements of the evaluation set forth in the RFP.

You can read the full report here.

Year in Review: A Look at Virgin Galactic Developments in 2014

WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Continuing our look back at 2014, we review progress at Virgin Galactic. While the loss of SpaceShipTwo on Oct. 31 understandably dominated the headlines, there were a number of other newsworthy developments at the company last year.

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