Top 5 Times Solar Activity Affected Earth

The Sun sends out a constant stream of particles and energy, which drives a complex space weather system near Earth and can affect spacecraft and astronauts. NASA has chosen five new mission concept studies for further development to study various aspects of this dynamic system. (Credits: NASA)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — Over the course of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle, the star goes through a period of increased and decreased activity. When this activity ramps up, sometimes phenomena such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), where massive amounts of radiation and solar particles erupt out from the Sun’s surface, can wreak havoc if our planet happens to be in the way of the blast.

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General Atomics Awarded NASA Contract for TSIS-2 Spacecraft

SAN DIEGO, CA, July 22, 2020 (General Atomics PR) — General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) has been awarded a contract by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) to build the Total and Spectral solar Irradiance Sensor-2 (TSIS-2) spacecraft which will provide measurements of solar irradiance and high-quality data for the long term climate record. GA-EMS will leverage its proven Orbital Test Bed (OTB) platform architecture to design and develop the satellite for TSIS-2, which is scheduled to launch in early 2023.

“We are extremely pleased to expand our relationship with NASA and to continue supporting their research goals with our flexible, modular OTB platforms,” stated Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “This contract is another exciting opportunity that demonstrates GA-EMS’ ability to deliver satellites on an aggressive schedule. The OTB platform will allow us to quickly and affordably integrate the TSIS-2 payload suite onto a free-flying spacecraft that will operate in a sun-synchronous orbit and allow NASA continuous solar monitoring capabilities throughout its mission lifecycle.”

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UAE’s Hope Mission Launched to Mars

An artist’s impression of the United Arab Emirates’ Hope spacecraft in orbit around Mars, where it will arrive in February 2021 after launching in July from Japan. (Credit: MBRSC)

The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Hope spacecraft is on its way to Mars after a successful launch from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan.

A H-IIA rocket lifted off on Monday morning at 6:58 a.m. JST (5:58 p.m. EDT on Sunday). Hope separated from the second stage about an hour later and sent its first signal to controllers.

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UAE to Launch First Mars Mission on Wednesday

Hope spacecraft in the clean room. (Credit: UAE Space Agency)

UPDATE: The launch has been delayed due to weather. New launch date TBD.

A Japanese H-2A rocket is set to launch the first Arab mission to Mars from the Tanegashima Space Center on Wednesday.

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Space ISAC Launches New Website: S-ISAC.org

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (ISAC PR) – Conceived by the Science & Technology Partnership Forum in 2017 in response to recognized information-sharing gaps within the cybersecurity and space community, the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) was announced in April 2019 during a classified session at the 35th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, CO. The Space ISAC held its inaugural board meeting in November 2019.

Today, the Space ISAC unveils its new website, a new resource for collaboration to protect space missions and global space assets. The launch of this new website is an important milestone as the Space ISAC approaches initial operating capability and readies for the launch of its threat intelligence platform.

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Janus Satellite to Explore Binary Asteroid

NASA rendering of a Janus satellite rendezvousing with a binary asteroid. (Credit: NASA)

Janus: Reconnaissance Missions to Binary Asteroids

Launch Vehicle: SpaceX Falcon Heavy (secondary payload on Psyche mission)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Date: July 2022
NASA Program: Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx)

Description

Janus: Reconnaissance Missions to Binary Asteroids will study the formation and evolutionary implications for small “rubble pile” asteroids and build an accurate model of two binary asteroid bodies. A binary asteroid is a system of two asteroids orbiting their common center of mass.

The principal investigator is Daniel Scheeres at the University of Colorado. Lockheed Martin will provide project management.

SIMPLEx

Using small spacecraft – less than 400 pounds, or 180 kilograms, in mass – SIMPLEx selections will conduct stand-alone planetary science missions. Each will share their ride to space with either another NASA mission or a commercial launch opportunity.

Janus will be managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama as part of the Solar System Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

NASA Funds Research into Food Production on Deep Space Missions

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield maintaining Biolab in Europe’s Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station. Biolab is an experiment workstation tailored for research on biological samples such as micro-organisms, cells, tissue cultures, plants and small invertebrates. The unit features a centrifuge that creates simulated gravity to compare how samples react to weightlessness and artificial gravity. (Credit; NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA contemplates deep space missions to the moon and Mars, the space agency faces increasing challenges in keeping its astronauts physically and mentally healthy.

One of the key elements in that challenge is fresh food. Currently, fresh produce is supplied periodically to astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on resupply ships. Crew members have also grown small quantities of vegetables on board.

Resupply becomes a more difficult task on deep space missions due to distance. Thus, astronauts will need to grow more of their own food. Last week, NASA announced three Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards to advance that goal.

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Suborbital Flights Stopped Being So Humdrum in 2018

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo’s first flight above 50 miles on Dec. 13, 2018. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Part 1 of 2

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Throughout the Space Age, suborbital flight has been the least exciting segment of the launch market. Operating in the shadow of their much larger orbital cousins, sounding rockets carrying scientific instruments, microgravity experiments and technology demonstrations have flown to the fringes of space with little fanfare or media attention.

The suborbital sector has become much more dynamic in recent years now that billionaires have started spending money in it. Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic both made significant progress last year in testing New Shepard and SpaceShipTwo, respectively. Their achievements have raised the real possibility of suborbital space tourism flights in 2019. (I know. Promises, promises…. But, this year they might finally really do it. I think.)

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NASA Selects 12 NIAC Phase I Projects for Funding

Titan submarine
Titan submarine

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 12 proposals for study under Phase I of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program, which aims to turn science fiction into fact through pioneering technology development.

The selected proposals cover a wide range of imaginative concepts, including:

  • a submarine to explore the methane lakes of Titan;
  • using neutrinos to perform measurements for the icy moons of the outer planets; and,
  • a concept to safely capture a tumbling asteroid, space debris, and other applications.

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eSpace Seeks Incubator Candidates

BOULDER, Colo. — eSpace: The Center for Space Entrepreneurship, a non-profit business incubator and workforce development organization for aerospace start-up companies, today announced its third round call for new incubator candidates for the eSpace Incubator program.

Current participants and alumni include creators of the flying hybrid, a Google Lunar X PRIZE contestant, an Inventor of the Year, and other entrepreneurs advancing the commercialization of space technologies and supporting the development of a workforce to fuel their growth. To apply, interested parties can find the eSpace Incubator Application at http://espacecenter.org/incubator_program.php.

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eSpace Hopes to Ignite Entrepreneurial Space Ventures

CNN has an interesting piece about eSpace: The Center for Space Entrepreneurship, a new incubator that is a collaboration between the University of Colorado and SpaceDev.

In a cavernous testing facility called the “Incubator,” specialized equipment recreates the unique conditions of a journey into space — from platforms that mimic the violent shaking at liftoff to chambers that replicate space’s bitter cold and complete vacuum.

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