NASA Partners with Altius, Honeybee & OrbitFab to Test Satellite Fixtures for Robotic Grappling

A robotic servicing arm (left) practices autonomous capture of a satellite mockup (right) in Goddard’s Robotic Operations Center. Because there is no grapple fixture, the arm will use the marman ring, which originally attached the satellite to the rocket that launched it to space. (Credits: NASA/Rebecca Roth)

by Tracy Vogel
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, has chosen three companies to participate in a new partnership to test and evaluate satellite servicing technologies.

Altius Space Machines of Broomfield, Colorado, Honeybee Robotics of Longmont, Colorado, and Orbit Fab of San Francisco will provide cooperative robotic grapple fixtures and data to be studied by NASA’s Exploration and In-Space Services projects division (NExIS, formerly known as the Satellite Servicing Projects Division) engineers. The engineers will utilize robotics facilities at Goddard via Space Act Agreements to collect data on the performance of the companies’ fixtures.

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Virgin Galactic Pivots High-speed Aircraft Program in a Crowded Field

Credit: Douglas Messier

Virgin Galactic’s record of delays and broken promises raises doubts about its ambitious supersonic aircraft project as company founder Richard Branson fights to save his struggling empire in the midst of a global pandemic.

Updated on 10/27/20 at 12:39 p.m. PDT to include spending comparison of Virgin Orbit to Rocket Lab.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Richard Branson’s dream of a suborbital Virgin Galactic vehicle zipping passengers between distant cities at hypersonic speeds above Mach 5 (6,174 km/h, 3,836 mph) is dead. At least for now.

In August, the space tourism company he founded pivoted to a slower supersonic Mach 3 (3,704 km/h, 2,302 mph) business jet. Virgin Galactic unveiled a mission concept for an aircraft that would carry 9-19 passengers at a cruising altitude of 60,000 ft (18,288 m).

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Virgin Galactic Signs Space Act Agreement with NASA in COVID-19 Fight

An employee works on the Aerospace Valley Positive Pressure Helmet, a device that was successfully tested by doctors at Antelope Valley Hospital in California. The Spaceship Company began producing 500 this week and a request was submitted April 22 to the FDA for an emergency use authorization. NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California partnered with Antelope Valley Hospital, the City of Lancaster, Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company (TSC), Antelope Valley College and members of the Antelope Valley Task Force to solve possible shortages of critical medical equipment in the local community. (Credits: NASA)

by George Whitesides
Virgin Galactic CEO

During the current global crisis, we believe that the space industry has a responsibility to share expertise, knowledge, resources, and ingenuity to aid in the fight against COVID-19. That’s why, today, we are proud to share that Virgin Galactic is meeting this responsibility head-on through a Space Act Agreement with NASA.

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Gilmour Space Signs Space Act Agreement with NASA

SINGAPORE, February 13, 2018 (Gilmour Space PR) – Australia and Singapore-based rocket company, Gilmour Space Technologies, has entered into a Space Act Agreement with the US National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) to collaborate on various research, technology development and educational initiatives.

“NASA is a world leader in space exploration efforts, and we’re privileged to be able to work with them to develop and test some of our innovative new space technologies,” said its CEO & Founder, Adam Gilmour.

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Astrobotic’s Progress in NASA’s Lunar CATALYST Program

Peregrine lunar lander (Credit: Astrobotic)

Astrobotic is one of three companies NASA has signed agreements with for the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (Lunar CATALYST) program.

“The purpose of the Lunar CATALYST initiative is for NASA to encourage the development of U.S. private-sector robotic lunar landers capable of successfully delivering small (30 to 100 kg) and medium (250 to 500 kg) class payloads to the lunar surface using U.S. commercial launch capabilities,” the agreement states.

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NASA Space Act Agreements with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and More

NASA has released a document listing the 1,206 active Space Act Agreements (SAAs) the agency has with commercial companies, non-profit organizations and state and local governments.

From that list, I’ve extracted agreements with individual companies. Below you will find tables listing SAAs that NASA has signed with Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Space Systems Loral, Google and Teledyne.

SAAs come in three varieties: reimburseable, non-reimburseable and funded. Under reimburseable agreements, a company or organization will pay NASA for its services. No money exchanges hands under non-reimburseable agrements. And under funded agreements, NASA pays the company to perform work or provide services. (The space agency made substantial use of SAA’s in the Commercial Crew Program.)
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NASA Space Act Agreements with Virgin Galactic, Moon Express, NanoRacks and More

NASA has released a document listing the 1,206 active Space Act Agreements  (SAAs) the agency has with commercial companies, non-profit organizations and state and local governments.

From that list, I’ve extracted agreements with individual companies. Below you will find tables listing SAAs that NASA has signed with Virgin Group companies, Moon Express and NanoRacks. There is also a fourth table that has SAAs with a number of companies and organizations that we follow on Parabolic Arc.

SAAs come in three varieties: reimburseable, non-reimburseable and funded. Under reimburseable agreements, a company or organization will pay NASA for its services. No money exchanges hands under non-reimburseable agrements. And under funded agreements, NASA pays the company to perform work or provide services. (The space agency made substantial use of SAA’s in the Commercial Crew Program.)

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NASA Space Act Agreements with Blue Origin, Orbital ATK, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Stratolaunch

NASA has released a document listing the 1,206 active Space Act Agreements (SAAs) the agency has with commercial companies, non-profit organizations and state and local governments.

From that list, I’ve extracted agreements with individual companies. Below you will find tables listing SAAs that NASA has signed with Blue Origin, Orbital ATK, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Stratolaunch Systems.

SAAs come in three varieties: reimburseable, non-reimburseable and funded. Under reimburseable agreements, a company or organization will pay NASA for its services. No money exchanges hands under non-reimburseable agrements. And under funded agreements, NASA pays the company to perform work or provide services. (The space agency made substantial use of SAA’s in the Commercial Crew Program.)

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NASA’s Space Act Agreements with SpaceX, Boeing, ULA & Sierra Nevada


NASA has released a document listing the 1,206 active Space Act Agreements (SAAs) the agency has with commercial companies, non-profit organizations and state and local governments.

From that list, I’ve extracted agreements with individual companies. Below you will find tables listing SAAs that NASA has signed with SpaceX, Boeing, United Launch Alliance and Sierra Nevada Corporation. The four companies have been involved with NASA’s Commercial Crew and Commercial Resupply Services programs.

SAAs come in three varieties: reimburseable, non-reimburseable and funded. Under reimburseable agreements, a company or organization will pay NASA for its services. No money exchanges hands under non-reimburseable agrements. And under funded agreements, NASA pays the company to perform work or provide services. (The space agency made substantial use of SAA’s in the Commercial Crew Program.)
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Astrobotic to Develop CubeRover Standard for Planetary Surface Mobility

CubeRover on the moon (Credit: Astrobotic)

PITTSBURGH, May 4, 2017 (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, has been selected by NASA to develop CubeRover, a class of 2-kg rover platforms capable of small-scale science and exploration on planetary surfaces. The team will design a CubeRover capable of evaluating lunar lander ejecta and characterizing surface mobility. CubeRover will establish a new standard for small-scale surface-deployable science and exploration platforms.

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NASA Terminates Space Act Agreement With B612 Foundation

sentinel_diagram
NASA has terminated an unfunded Space Act Agreement with the B612 Foundation, a private organization whose goal is to launch a spacecraft called Sentinel that would conduct a comprehensive search for asteroids.

Its primary purpose was obtaining NASA technical consulting and agreement for B612 to use NASA tracking facilities for Sentinel after it was launched.  In return, B612 would keep NASA informed of the spacecraft’s technical characteristics and progress and deliver data from the spacecraft to the Minor Planet Center….

NASA spokesmen Dwayne Brown and Dave Steitz confirmed via email that NASA terminated the agreement with B612.  Steitz explained that B612 had not met an important milestone in the SAA — starting Sentinel’s development — and NASA therefore terminated the agreement because “due to limited resources, NASA can no longer afford to reserve funds” to support the project.  “NASA believes it is in the best interest of both parties to terminate this agreement but remains open to future opportunities to collaborate with the B612 Foundation,” he added.

B612 Vice President for Communications Diane Murphy also confirmed the termination, but said NASA had invited them to return to obtain another SAA when Sentinel’s launch date is closer.   She noted that “our timeline is dependent on our fundraising — and while that is going well – it is hard … and taking longer than we first anticipated.”   She provided a statement from Lu asserting that the “status of the SAA in no way changes the resolve of the B612 Foundation to move forward. … We will continue to work independently and together with NASA, the US Congress and others to see our goals realized.”

According to data compiled by Pro Publica, the foundation became tax exempt in July 2013. The foundation’s tax return for 2013, which is the most recent available, shows it received $1,618,005 in contributions that year while spending $1,556,227. Net assets at the end of the year totaled $195,931.

Foundation President Ed Lu received $240,000 in compensation in 2013. Secretary and Chief Operating Officer Danica Rema received $209,443 for the year. The tax return also lists an additional $271,277 in other salaries and wages. The return does not state who received this compensation. Almost half of it — $132,171 — is attributed to fund-raising expenses.











ATK, NASA to Collaborate on Space Logistics, Transportation

NASA LOGOARLINGTON, Va. (ATK PR) – ATK (NYSE: ATK) and NASA have announced an agreement to support near-term core technologies for space logistics, hosted payloads, and space transportation.

The Space Act Agreement (SAA) allows ATK’s Space Systems division and NASA to collaborate on technologies and new product development that meet the needs of the emerging satellite transport and space logistics industry. The SAA is an unfunded partnership through NASA’s Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities Office at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

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Final Frontier Design to Collaborate With NASA on Spacesuits

Spacesuit pressurization (Credit: Final Frontier Design)
Spacesuit pressurization (Credit: Final Frontier Design)

BROOKLYN, NY and HOUSTON (FFD PR) — Final Frontier Design (FFD) is proud to announce the signing of a Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA to collaborate on the development, design review, and testing of its launch and re-entry space suit for orbital space flight.

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NASA Selects Commercial Space Partners for Collaborative Partnerships

NASA LOGOWASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA announced Tuesday the selection of four U.S. companies to collaborate with NASA through unfunded partnerships to develop new space capabilities available to the government and other customers. The partnerships build on the success of NASA’s commercial spaceflight initiatives to leverage NASA experience and expertise into new capabilities.

The Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC) initiative is designed to advance private sector development of integrated space capabilities through access to NASA’s spaceflight resources and ensure emerging products or services are commercially available to government and non-government customers within approximately the next five years.

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