NASA’s Exploration Campaign: Back to the Moon and on to Mars

If the Moon has enough water, and if it’s reasonably convenient to access, future explorers might be able to use it as a resource. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

“The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery. It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints — we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, worlds beyond.” 

-President Donald Trump

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — In December 2017, President Donald J. Trump gave NASA a new direction, telling the agency to work with international and commercial partners to refocus exploration efforts on the moon, with an eye to eventually going on to Mars and even beyond.

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Multiple Flight Projects Selected from ISS Cotton Sustainability Challenge

Projects selected from the challenge, sponsored by Target Corporation, seek to improve cotton sustainability by leveraging the International Space Station

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., April 23, 2018 (CASIS PR) — The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today announced the selection of three projects from its Cotton Sustainability Challenge.

The challenge, sponsored by Target Corporation, provided researchers and innovators the ability to propose solutions to improve crop production on Earth by sending their concepts to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory.

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NanoRacks Awarded GSA Schedule Contract For In-Space Services

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (NanoRacks PR) – NanoRacks is pleased to announce that the Company has been awarded a contract with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Professional Services Schedule (00CORP). As a services provider under this contract, NanoRacks is able to provide its customer-driven in-space services to federal agencies at a pre-negotiated fixed rate.

NanoRacks, the commercial market leader in low-Earth orbit, is offering its flagship services within the GSA schedule, centered around microgravity research and International Space Station and other launch vehicle-based CubeSat and MicroSat deployment opportunities.

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NanoRacks Forms International Business Development Partnership with ALTEC, Thales Alenia Space

NanoRacks Opening European Office in Italy

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 18, 2018 (NanoRacks PR) – NanoRacks is pleased to announce that the Company will be pursuing International Space Station opportunities in cooperation with ALTEC and Thales Alenia Space, joint venture between Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%. To pursue these opportunities, NanoRacks will be staffing its first formal European-based office at ALTEC’s facilities in Torino, Italy.

The office will serve as a business development hub for European and Asian customers. International customers will enjoy NanoRacks end-to-end turnkey services and technical advice, now in a more accommodating time zone.

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UAE Astronaut Program Receives 4,000+ Applications

There has been a lot of interest in the UAE’s astronaut program.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has received over 4,000 applications (aged between 17 and 67) from Emiratis aspiring to join the UAE Astronaut Programme, which was launched in December 2017 and was open for registrations for three months until March 2018.

Funded by ICT Fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), the programme saw females constitute 34% of applicants…

The top four candidates who will form the UAE Astronauts Team by the end of 2018 will then undergo a series of training programmes divided into year-long basic training modules and advanced training modules, which will be conducted over three years.

They will also travel to global Astronaut Training Centres for more preparation, as well as the International Space Station (ISS) for a range of scientific research projects and experiments in various disciplines. Each experiment and mission will have different objectives, though the UAE’s mission will be to contribute to humanity’s knowledge and support national and international future space missions.

NanoRacks’ Commercial ISS Airlock Completes CDR, Moves to Fabrication

Commercial airlock on International Space Station. (Credit: NanoRacks)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (NanoRacks PR) – The NanoRacks Space Station Airlock Module “Bishop” met another major milestone with completion of the Critical Design Review (CDR) on March 20 and 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas.  This milestone begins the transition from the engineering design phase to the fabrication phase.  Detailed design drawings such as those for the critical pressure shell will be signed and released to NanoRacks fabrication partner, Thales Alenia Space, in order for them to continue their fabrication efforts.

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SpaceX Proposes Recovering Dragon Spacecraft in Gulf of Mexico

Dragon capsule after recovery. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has proposed recovering Dragon spacecraft in the Gulf of Mexico as a contingency option to recovering them in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

“With the introduction of the [commercial crew program], the ability to return crew to Earth in a safe and timely manner is extremely important, particularly in cases where human life or health may be in jeopardy,” according to a draft environmental assessment published by the FAA.

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Orion Span Announces Plan for Space Hotel

Aurora station (Credit: Orion Span)

HOUSTON (Orion Span PR) – The first-ever luxury space hotel was introduced today during the Space 2.0 Summit in San Jose, California. Named after the magical light phenomenon that illuminates the Earth’s polar skies, Aurora Station (pictured right) is being developed by Orion Span and the company’s team of space industry veterans, who have over 140 years of human space experience.

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NanoRacks Sends Groundbreaking Satellite, Biological Research to ISS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (NanoRacks PR) –  NanoRacks, the leading provider for commercial access to low-Earth orbit, has brought yet another unique payload mission to the International Space Station. Carrying a professional protein crystal experiment, college-level biological research, and a debris capturing microsatellite (MicroSat), this mission continues to push the boundaries of commercial opportunities on the International Space Station.

The SpaceX CRS-14 Dragon was successfully installed on the Harmony Module of the International Space Station at 9:00 EDT on Wednesday.
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Orbital Debris Removal Satellite Launches Aboard Dragon Resupply Ship

RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft during final assembly at SSTL. (Credit SSTL/Max Alexander)

A satellite equipped with a net and a harpoon was launched to the International Space Station on Monday as part of an experiment to capture and dispose of orbital debris.

The RemoveDebris spacecraft was aboard a SpaceX Dragon resupply ship launched from Cape Camaveral.  The European-built satellite will be deployed by astronauts from the space station.

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SpaceX Launches Dragon Resupply Ship to Space Station

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off with a Dragon resupply ship on April 2, 2018. (Credit: NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — Astronauts aboard the International Space Station soon will receive a delivery of experiments dealing with how the human body, plants and materials behave in space following the 4:30 p.m. EDT launch Monday of a SpaceX commercial resupply mission.

A SpaceX Dragon lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with more than 5,800 pounds of research investigations and equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of the more than 250 investigations aboard the space station.

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Boeing & SpaceX Continue Parachute Tests for Commercial Crew Vehicles

At left, Boeing conducted the first in a series of parachute reliability tests its Starliner flight drogue and main parachute system Feb. 22, 2018, over Yuma Arizona. Photo Credit: NASA. At right, SpaceX performed its fourteenth overall parachute test supporting Crew Dragon development March 4, 2018, over the Mojave Desert in Southern California. The test demonstrated an off-nominal, or abnormal, situation, deploying only one of the two drogue chutes and three of the four main parachutes. (Credit: SpaceX)

By Marie Lewis
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

Crew safety is paramount in the return of human spaceflight launches from Florida’s Space Coast, and the latest round of parachute testing is providing valuable data to help industry partners Boeing and SpaceX meet NASA’s requirements for certification.

On March 4, SpaceX performed its 14th overall parachute test supporting Crew Dragon development. This exercise was the first of several planned parachute system qualification tests ahead of the spacecraft’s first crewed flight and resulted in the successful touchdown of Crew Dragon’s parachute system.

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Space-to-Ground Laser Communications System for European ISS Platform

Bartolomeo with laser (Credit: Airbus)

BREMEN, German (Airbus PR) — The first high capacity space-to-ground laser communication system is to be installed on the Bartolomeo platform of the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a collaboration between Airbus Defence and Space, the Institute of Communications and Navigation of DLR (German Aerospace Center) and Tesat-Spacecom GmbH & Co. KG. The system called OSIRIS will provide direct to earth (DTE) technology with a data rate of 10 Gbps over range of about 1.500 km.

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First Quarter 2018 Launch Report: China & USA Battle for Lead

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy begins its first flight. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The world’s launch providers have been extremely busy in the first quarter of 2018, with 31 orbital launches thus far. This is more than one third of the 90 launches conducted last year.

China leads the pack with 10 successful launches. The United States is close behind with a total of nine launches with one failure. The tenth American launch is scheduled for Monday afternoon from Florida.

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