NASA Prepares to Launch ICON — Again

ICON spacecraft (Credit: NASA)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA and Northrop Grumman currently are preparing the agency’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, spacecraft and the Pegasus XL rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for ferry to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida by the L-1011 Stargazer aircraft on Oct. 1, 2019.

The launch has been rescheduled to Oct. 10, 2019, following the completion of a joint NASA/Northrop Grumman investigation into a Pegasus sensor reading that was not within normal limits during previous ferry and launch attempt flights. The cause of the issue is understood, and the flight hardware has been modified to address the issue.

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Northrop Grumman Fully Assembles NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

A full-length shot of Webb’s impressive mirror. (Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn)

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Aug. 28, 2019 (Northrop Grumman PR) – At Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) in Redondo Beach, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Spacecraft Element (SCE) and Optical Telescope Element/Integrated Science Instrument Module (OTIS) are now one. Both halves of the telescope (SCE and OTIS) have been successfully assembled.

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Orion Hot Fire Test Blazing Safe Trail for NASA Moon Missions

Hot fire of the attitude control motor on Orion’s launch abort system (LAS), the second to last test before it’s qualified for Artemis 2 – the first flight with astronauts. (Credit: NASA)

The Northrop Grumman built attitude control motor (ACM) on Orion’s launch abort system was successfully tested on August 22, at their facility in Elkton, Maryland.

The 30-second trial by fire was the second to last test before it’s qualified for human spaceflight on Artemis 2 — the first mission with astronauts. During the static test, the ACM produced more than 7,000 pounds of thrust from eight valves, providing enough force to steer Orion and its crew to a safe distance.

Hot fire of the attitude control motor on Orion’s launch abort system. (Credit: NASA)

The launch abort system is designed to transport Orion and its crew to safety in the event of an emergency during launch or ascent. It consists of three solid rocket motors: the abort motor pulls the crew module away from the launch vehicle; the ACM steers and orients the capsule; then the jettison motor ignites to separate the launch abort system from Orion for parachute deployment and a safe crew landing.

All three motors will be certified for future crewed flights after qualification tests are completed later this year. The launch abort system was stress tested earlier this year during the successful Ascent Abort-2 test.

These achievements brings Orion closer to safe flights with astronauts, paving the way for the first woman and the next man to land on the Moon by 2024.

Northrop Grumman Becomes First Commercial Partner to Use Vehicle Assembly Building

From left to right, Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, Northrop Grumman Vice President and OmegA Capture Lead Kent Rominger, and Col. Thomas Ste. Marie, vice commander of the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing, cut the ribbon in High Bay 2. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — After spending more than 50 years supporting NASA’s human spaceflight programs, the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), a landmark at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is getting its first commercial tenant.

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Blue Origin Files Pre-award Protest Over USAF Launcher Competition

Defense News reports that Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has filed a pre-award protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) over the U.S. Air Force’s competition for new launch contracts.

Blue Origin is arguing that the current structure of the launch service provider competition may favor incumbents and will perpetuate a duopoly, according to a Blue Origin fact sheet obtained by Defense News.

“As drafted, the LSP [launch service provider] RFP [request for proposals] includes evaluation criteria that are ambiguous and fail to comply with federal procurement statutes and regulations. This subjectivity of the criteria makes it impossible to accurately respond to the RFP,” the fact sheet states.

“To ensure the process maximizes value for the American taxpayer and protects U.S. national security interests in space, it is essential that the Air Force structure the LSP RFP in a way that fosters a fair and level playing field for new entrants.”

The Air Force released a solicitation for the second phase of the LSP competition in May and intends to downselect to two launch providers in 2020. SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman are all slated to vie for the series of contracts, which will be awarded over 2020 to 2024 for launches scheduled through 2027.

Cygnus Departs Space Station, Begins 4-Month Secondary Mission

Cygnus departs the International Space Station. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

DULLES, Va. (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced that its Cygnus™ spacecraft has successfully unberthed and departed from the International Space Station (ISS), beginning its secondary mission before it reenters Earth’s atmosphere. The NG-11 Cygnus spacecraft, named in honor of Apollo 1 astronaut and space visionary Roger Chaffee, left the ISS after a 109 day stay at the station.

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NASA to Broadcast Departure of Cygnus Cargo Ship From Station

April 19, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are docked at the space station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter and Russia’s Progress 71 and 72 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-11 and MS-12 crew ships. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — More than three months after delivering several tons of supplies and scientific experiments to the International Space Station, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft, the SS Roger Chaffee, will depart the orbiting laboratory Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Live coverage of the craft’s release will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at noon EDT, with release scheduled for 12:15 p.m.

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Robert Bigelow Disappointed with NASA Decision on Lunar Gateway Hab Module

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and President and founder of Bigelow Aerospace, Robert T. Bigelow, announce a planned addition to the International Space Station that will use the orbiting laboratory to test expandable space habitat technology during a press conference held at Bigelow Aerospace on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 in Las Vegas. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Commentary by Robert Bigelow

We have received many inquires about what is going on with the Gateway program. As many of you have already read it appears that negotiations are already underway between NASA and Northrop Grumman for a modified “mini hab” that is going to be docked to the PPE. What we think we know is that NASA wants to use a modified version of the Cygnus cargo vehicle, which is built by Thales Alenia. The current use of the Cygnus is to haul supplies to the ISS and dispose of trash by burning up in the atmosphere.

What has also been discussed is that the Cygnus would be converted to a structure with multiple docking ports. Our understanding at this time is that this structure would internally not have life support systems that without being attached to another structure wouldn’t keep people alive. We agree that a multi-port docking node is a valuable asset.

We have also been told by NASA that there is some future possibility to expect the emergence of a domestic habitat someday. As always, that is precisely what Bigelow is interested in building. In fact, our habitat is actually a standalone space station. We think the B330 standalone space station would make an excellent low altitude lunar depot.

Someday if NASA were to give us the green light, we would be very excited to be part of the Gateway program, a future low-level lunar depot program or to even land a lunar base on the moon.

Robert T. Bigelow
President and Founder

NASA Awards Contract to Northrop Grumman for Lunar Gateway Habitat Module

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has awarded Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (NGIS) a contract of an undisclosed amount to modify its Cygnus space station resupply vehicle to serve as the minimal habitation module (MHM) for the Lunar Gateway.

Northrop Grumman won out over four competitors that had won contracts to develop mockup habitats under the space agency’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2) program.

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SpaceX Wins Launch Contract to Launch Space Norway Arctic Broadband Satellites

Northrop Grumman will design, manufacture and integrate two satellites for Space Norway’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission systems in addition to providing critical ground infrastructure. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

OSLO, Norway (Space Norway PR) — Space Norway will cooperate with the satellite operator Inmarsat and the Norwegian Ministry of Defence to offer mobile broadband coverage to civilian and military users in the Arctic. Two satellites will be built by Northrop Grumman and are scheduled to be launched by SpaceX in late 2022. The ground station will be established in North Norway and ensure Norwegian control of this critically important capability.

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Northrop Grumman Wins Contract to Provide Continuous Secure Communication in Polar Region

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been awarded an $82 million contract by the U.S. Air Force to facilitate military satellite communications in the Earth’s north polar region through its Enhanced Polar System Recapitalization (EPS-R) Control and Planning Segment (CAPS) program. Northrop Grumman is the provider for all three major components of the EPS-R CAPS program demonstrating the company’s industry-leading end-to-end capabilities.

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Northrop Grumman to Deliver Space-Based Broadband Satellites for North Polar Region for Space Norway

Northrop Grumman will design, manufacture and integrate two satellites for Space Norway’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission systems in addition to providing critical ground infrastructure. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Dulles, Va. (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been awarded a contract by Space Norway to deliver its Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission (ASBM) system. Northrop Grumman will design, manufacture and integrate two satellites in addition to providing critical ground infrastructure.

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CraigX Launch Scheduled for October 2019 on Cygnus Spacecraft

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Craig Technologies PR) -– Craig Technologies Aerospace Solutions (Craig) is pleased to announce the upcoming launch of CraigX, their on-orbit external experimental facility hosted on the NanoRacks International Space Station External Platform (NREP). The mission is scheduled to launch in October2019 on the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket mission NG-12 under the NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS2) contract.

The CraigX Flight Test Platform (FTP) is designed to mount externally to the International Space Station (ISS) and promote electronics testing to raise Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) at a low cost and a reduced time frame. The interchangeable panel design minimizes hardware changes between missions while maximizing flexibility to accommodate customer requirements. Additive manufactured hardware is used internally to reduce manufacturing cost and schedule.

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NASA Reaches New Milestone on Complex, Large Rocket

Paul Diaz, a Boeing technician, installs one of 360 bolts to connect the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s massive liquid hydrogen tank to the core stage’s intertank at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Next, the engine section and the four engines will be attached to complete assembly of the stage for the Artemis 1 mission to the Moon. (Credits: NASA/Eric Bordelon)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA achieved a significant milestone in manufacturing the first large, complex core stage that will help power the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on upcoming missions to the Moon. NASA and lead contractor Boeing have assembled four-fifths of the massive core stage needed to launch SLS and the Orion spacecraft on their first mission to the Moon: Artemis 1.

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NASA-Funded LEO Commercialization Studies Yield Diverse Results

Credit: Axiom Space

Last week, NASA released the results of low Earth orbit (LEO) commercialization studies the space agency commissioned 12 companies to conduct. The space agency is looking to become a tenant in LEO as it aims to return astronauts to the moon in 2024.

Credit: Blue Origin

The studies were conducted by a diverse group of companies ranging from big aerospace such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to up and comers like Blue Origin and NanoRacks to business consultants Deloitte and McKinsey&Company.
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