Blue Origin’s New Shepard Aces 17th Launch

VAN HORN, Texas (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin successfully completed the 17th New Shepard mission to space and back for the program, and the 8th consecutive flight for this particular vehicle.

Today’s flight featured commercial payloads on board, several of which were supported by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program and included a second flight of the Deorbit, Descent, and Landing (DDL) Sensor Demonstration under a NASA Tipping Point partnership. The DDL demonstration, which flew for the second time mounted on the exterior of New Shepard’s booster, tested technology designed to achieve high-accuracy landing for future Moon missions. This aims to enable long-term lunar exploration. 

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NASA Funds Hopper to Explore Lunar Polar Craters

An artist’s rendition of Micro-Nova deploying from Nova-C to explore permanently shaded regions of the moon. (Credit: Intuitive Machines)

PHOENIX (ASU PR) — Arizona State University is partnering with Intuitive Machines on a mini extreme mobility lunar vehicle, called Micro-Nova, that will hop around the moon’s surface and take the first-ever pictures inside craters close to the lunar south pole.

On July 16, 2021, NASA awarded the project a $41.6 million “Tipping Point” contract to develop, fly and operate a deployable lunar “hopper lander” on the moon. For this mission design, Micro-Nova can carry a 1-kilogram payload more than 2.5 kilometers to access lunar craters and enable high-resolution surveying of the lunar surface under the flight path.

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Astrobotic Wins Two NASA Prizes for Lunar Power Infrastructure

Credit: Astrobotic Technology

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic, the world’s leading lunar logistics company, has won two prizes for Phase 1 of NASA’s Watts on the Moon Centennial Challenge. The prizes further establish Astrobotic as a pioneer in lunar surface power generation, distribution, storage, and management.

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NASA Awards Eta Space Contract for Gas Stations in Space

LOXSAT-1 satellite (Credit: Eta Space)

Eta Space to Fly LOXSAT Mission to Demonstrate Cryogenic Fluid Management in Orbit

ROCKLEDGE, Fla. (Eta Space PR) — Eta Space signed a $25M contract on April 27 with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate under the Technology Demonstration Missions (TDM) Program to demonstrate critical Cryogenic Fluid Management (CFM) technologies in low Earth orbit. Headquartered in Rockledge, Florida, Eta Space was the only small business awarded one of NASA’s STMD “Tipping Point” contracts for a CFM project within the TDM Program. This contract, along with a separate 2019 Tipping Point award to develop cryogenic propellant depots on the Lunar surface, solidifies Eta Space as the new space industry leader in commercial cryogenic propellant servicing.

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

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Commercial CubeRover Test Shows How NASA Investments Mature Space Tech

The Astrobotic CubeRover traverses the terrain in the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Laboratory regolith bin at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 10, 2020. The regolith bin simulates the mechanical properties of the Moon’s surface. NASA and Astrobotic employees put the CubeRover through a series of more than 150 mobility tests over several days to evaluate and improve wheel design. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

by Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

Researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently put a new, small robotic rover through its paces inside a 120-ton bin of regolith rock and dust that simulates the lunar surface.

The four-wheeled CubeRover rolled over dunes of abrasive dust, turned in place, and then trundled up and down steep trench walls within the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations (GMRO) laboratory as it performed more than 150 mobility tests. The rover’s creators, from Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh, worked alongside Kennedy’s Swamp Works team, assessing the robot’s maneuverability and how its sensor, motor, and power systems operated in the dusty environment.

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Relativity Space Closes $500 Million Series D Financing

LOS ANGELES, November 23, 2020 (Relativity Space PR — Relativity Space, the first company to 3D print an entire rocket and build the largest metal 3D printers in the world, today announced it closed a $500 million Series D equity funding round.

The round was led by Tiger Global Management with participation from new investors Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Baillie Gifford, ICONIQ Capital, General Catalyst, XN, Senator Investment Group, and Elad Gil. Existing investors participating in the round include BOND, Tribe Capital, K5 Global, 3L, Playground Global, Mark Cuban, Spencer Rascoff, and Allen & Company LLC, among others.

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Astrobotic Wins $5.7 Million NASA Tipping Point Contract for Wireless Charging on the Moon

Astrobotic, WiBotic, Bosch, University of Washington, NASA GRC to develop Wireless Ultra-Fast Proximity Charging for Critical Space Applications

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic wins $5.7 million NASA Tipping Point contract to lead Bosch, WiBotic, the University of Washington, and the NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) in developing a product line of lightweight proximity chargers. These ultrafast wireless chargers will enable critical lunar applications for both humans and robots.

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Ozmens’ SNC Selected for NASA Tipping Point Contract for Groundbreaking Technology to Produce Oxygen on Moon

Oxygen is locked in lunar regolith (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev.,  November 17, 2020 — Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader owned by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, has been selected for a contract as part of NASA’s Tipping Point solicitation to further develop its carbothermal reduction process, which harvests oxygen from minerals on the surface of the Moon. 

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NASA Funds Lockheed Martin to Develop Cryogenic Fluid Management in Space

Credit: Lockheed Martin

BETHESDA, Md. (Lockheed Martin PR) — On Oct. 14, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced a $370 million investment with 14 U.S. partners that will demonstrate and mature space technologies to help forge a path to sustainable Artemis operations on the Moon.

As a recipient of an $89.7 million contract from this Tipping Point solicitation, Lockheed Martin will complete an in-space demonstration mission using liquid hydrogen — the most challenging of the cryogenic propellants. This allows us and our partners to test more than one dozen cryogenic fluid management technologies over the next five years.

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NASA Tipping Point Selections Include Cryogenic Fluid, Lunar Surface and Landing Tech

An astronaut descends the ladder to explore the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The following selections, organized by topic area, are based on NASA’s fifth competitive Tipping Point  solicitation and have an expected combined award value of more than $370 million. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) will negotiate with the companies to issue milestone-based firm-fixed price contracts lasting for up to five years.

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New Shepard Successfully Completes Mission with NASA Precision Lunar Landing Technology Onboard

New Shepard landing on the pad in West Texas on October 13, 2020, with the NASA Lunar Landing Sensor Demo onboard. (Credit: Blue Origin)

CORN RANCH, Texas (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin successfully completed the 13th New Shepard mission to space and back, and the 7th consecutive flight for this particular vehicle, a record. Catch the mission webcast replay on Blue Origin’s YouTube page.

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NASA Tipping Point Partnership with Blue Origin to Test Precision Lunar Landing Technologies

by Clare Skelly
NASA Headquarters

WASHINGTON — From the rim of Shackleton crater to permanently shadowed regions on the Moon, a NASA-developed sensor suite could allow robotic and crewed missions to land precisely on the lunar surface within an area about half the size of a football field.

Technologies to enable exact and soft landings on the Moon and other worlds will fly on Blue Origin’s next New Shepard suborbital rocket launch, currently targeted for 11:00 a.m. EDT Thursday, Sept. 24. The company’s live launch webcast will start at 10:30 a.m. and air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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Astrobotic Developing Ground Penetrating Radar with NASA Funding

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected Astrobotic Technology for additional funding to continue development of a compact, highly efficient ground penetrating radar (GPR) antenna that will allow rovers to characterize resources under the surface of the moon and other planets.

“The benefits of such technology could enable the characterization of lunar lava tubes, subsurface water-ice, and the location of planetary ore deposits in a manner that is both affordable and simple to integrate with larger systems,” Astrobotic said in its proposal summary.

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