Planetary Defense: Italy’s LICIACube Flies with DART Toward a Collision with an Asteroid

LICIACube (Credit: Argotec)

The journey into deep space of the satellite of the Italian Space Agency’s LICIACube satellite has begun.

ROME (ASI PR) — The first planetary defense mission of NASA DART, which carries the LICIACube satellite built by Argotec, in collaboration and with the contribution of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), was launched as scheduled on Nov. 24 at 07.21 Italian time from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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NASA, SpaceX Launch DART: First Test Mission to Defend Planet Earth

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft onboard, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, Pacific time (Nov. 24 Eastern time) from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. DART is the world’s first full-scale planetary defense test, demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection technology. The mission was built and is managed by Johns Hopkins APL for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world’s first full-scale mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards, launched Wednesday at 1:21 a.m. EST on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Just one part of NASA’s larger planetary defense strategy, DART – built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland – will impact a known asteroid that is not a threat to Earth. Its goal is to slightly change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be accurately measured using ground-based telescopes.

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NASA TV to Air DART Prelaunch Activities, Launch

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft at Didymos. (Credit: NASA)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s first planetary defense test mission, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). The mission will help determine if intentionally crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an effective way to change its course. DART’s target asteroid is not a threat to Earth.

DART is scheduled to launch no earlier than 1:20 a.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 24 (10:20 p.m. PST Tuesday, Nov. 23) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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Join NASA’s Virtual Social to Experience the Launch of the #DARTMission

DART mission (Credit: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Social media users are invited to register to take part in our global virtual NASA Social for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, directed by NASA and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). This mission is targeted to launch at 10:20 p.m. PST, Nov. 23, 2021, (1:20 a.m. EST, Nov. 24), aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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DART Arrives at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Its Final Stop Before Launch

Inside a cleanroom at Johns Hopkins APL, the DART spacecraft being moved into a specialized shipping container that headed across the country to Vandenberg Space Force Base near Lompoc, California, where DART is scheduled to launch from late next month. (Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Just two days after leaving the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, in a specialized container carefully strapped to the deck of a semi-trailer truck, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft arrived in California — its final stop here on Earth. 

The truck, spacecraft and a small motorcade of APL engineers and technicians pulled into Vandenberg Space Force Base near Lompoc, California, on Saturday, Oct. 2, in the early afternoon local time. 

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United Launch Alliance Atlas V Successfully Launches Landsat 9 Earth Science Mission for NASA

A ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the Landsat 9 mission for NASA lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at 11:12 a.m. PDT on Sept. 27. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE STATION, Calif., Sept. 27, 2021 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Landsat 9 mission for NASA lifted off on Sept. 27 at 11:12 a.m. PDT from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base. To date ULA has launched 145 times with 100 percent mission success.

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ULA to Launch Landsat 9 Satellite on Monday from Vandenberg

Landsat 9 (Credit: NASA)

VANDERBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (ULA Mission Update) — Everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V launch carrying the Landsat 9 mission for NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. The mission is planned to lift off on Mon., Sept. 27 at 11:11 a.m. PDT from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. 

Live broadcast coverage of launch will begin at 10:30 a.m. PDT on Sept. 27 and will broadcast live on NASA TV. Live launch updates and webcast available at: www.ulalaunch.com

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NASA TV to Air Landsat 9 Launch, Prelaunch Activities

Landsat 9 (Credit: NASA)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the Landsat 9 satellite, a joint NASA and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) mission that will continue the legacy of monitoring Earth’s land and coastal regions that began with the first Landsat satellite in 1972.

Landsat 9 is scheduled to launch at 2:11 p.m. EDT (11:11 a.m. PDT) Monday, Sept. 27, on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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Landsat 9 Launch Pushed Back to Sept. 27

Landsat 9 Operational Land Imager 2 (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

NASA Mission Update

NASA and United Launch Alliance currently are reviewing the launch date for the Landsat 9 spacecraft scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Attaching the spacecraft to the Atlas V rocket has been delayed due to out-of-tolerance high winds for the operation and conflicts with other customers using the Western Range.

The Landsat 9 mission now is expected to launch from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex 3 no earlier than Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.

Landsat 9 is a joint NASA and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) mission that continues the legacy of monitoring Earth’s land and coastal regions, which began with the first Landsat in 1972.

SpaceX Launches 51 Laser-equipped Starlink Satellites From Vandenberg

Falcon 9 with 51 Starlink satellites aboard streaks across the sky over the Pacific Ocean. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket with 51 Starlink advanced broadband satellites from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Monday night. The booster launched at 8:55 p.m. PDT, streaking southward across the nighttime sky.

The Starlink satellites are the first to be equipped with laser links to speed communications for SpaceX’s broadband service.

The booster’s first stage, which flew for the 10th time, landed on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship in the Pacific Ocean. The stage had previously flown on the Telstar 18 VANTAGE, Iridium-8, and seven Starlink missions.

One half of Falcon 9’s fairing halves previously supported NROL-108 and the other previously flew on GPS III-3 and Turksat-5A.

Falcon 9 to Launch Starlink Satellites From Vandenberg Tonight

Credit: SpaceX

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Monday, September 13 for a Falcon 9 launch of 51 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The instantaneous window is at 8:55 p.m. PDT, or September 14 at 3:55 UTC, and a backup opportunity is available on Tuesday, September 14 at 8:56 p.m. PDT, or September 15 at 3:56 UTC.

The booster supporting this mission previously launched Telstar 18 VANTAGE, Iridium-8, and seven Starlink missions. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Pacific Ocean. One half of Falcon 9’s fairing halves previously supported NROL-108 and the other previously flew on GPS III-3 and Turksat-5A.

A live webcast of this mission will begin about 15 minutes prior to liftoff.

Feinstein, Padilla & Carbajal Urge Air Force to Consider Vandenberg as Permanent Base for STARCOM

Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 satellite lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (Credit: ULA)

WASHINGTON (Dianne Feinstein PR)—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla and Representative Salud Carbajal (all D-Calif.) today expressed support for making Vandenberg Space Force Base the permanent location for the Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) amid reports that the previous U.S. Space Command basing decision was based on politics, not merit.

“As you know, Vandenberg Space Force Base already plays an important role in space training and operations. Vandenberg trains space operators at the Air Education and Training Command’s 381st Training Group; manages missile testing; and launches satellites into polar orbit,” the members wrote in a letter to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall. “Further, Vandenberg’s proximity to California’s world-renowned aerospace industry, universities, and research institutions makes it well-suited to support the permanent establishment of STARCOM.”

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

September 10, 2021

Mr. Frank Kendall
Secretary of the Air Force
1670 Air Force
Washington, D.C. 20330-1670 

Dear Secretary Kendall:

We write to express support for Vandenberg Space Force Base as the permanent location of the Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) and to ask that you ensure the selection process is based on a rigorous and objective evaluation of each proposed site.  We are concerned about reports that the previous Administration’s decision to establish U.S. Space Command at Redstone Arsenal was based on politics instead of the merits, and ask you to ensure this does not happen in future basing decisions. 

We are also concerned about the decision to temporarily base STARCOM at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  As you know, Vandenberg Space Force Base already plays an important role in space training and operations.  Vandenberg trains space operators at the Air Education and Training Command’s 381st Training Group; manages missile testing; and launches satellites into polar orbit.  Further, Vandenberg’s proximity to California’s world-renowned aerospace industry, universities, and research institutions makes it well-suited to support the permanent establishment of STARCOM.

We trust that under your leadership, future basing decisions will be carried out in an impartial manner and will follow established processes.  We look forward to working with you and your staff on behalf of Airmen, Guardians, and their families.  Thank you for your consideration, and please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.  

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Salud Carbajal
Member of Congress 

Alex Padilla
United States Senator 

ManTech Wins $476 Million U.S. Space Force Contract for Systems Engineering and Integration Supporting Launch Enterprise Programs

HERNDON, Va., Sept. 07, 2021 (ManTech PR) — ManTech (Nasdaq: MANT), a leading provider of innovative technologies and solutions for mission-critical national security programs, has been awarded a $476 million contract by U.S. Space Force to provide systems engineering solutions for the agency’s Space and Missile Center – now redesignated as Space Systems Command (SSC).

With this 10-year prime contract award, ManTech continues its support for a wide array of mission critical space launch programs with launch service integration, fleet surveillance and certification for space and missile systems at Space Force facilities at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Vandenberg Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. As part of this contract, ManTech is Bringing Digital to the Mission with its investment in Intelligent Systems Engineering solutions to support the Space Force goal of fielding a digital engineering ecosystem fostering both innovation and speed of delivery.

“As the trusted partner of this prominent customer since 2010, we are proud and excited to take the next steps in advancing the missions of U.S. Space Force,” said Andrew Twomey, Executive Vice President and General Manager of ManTech’s Defense Sector. “Applying the world’s finest Intelligent Systems Engineering capabilities, we will meet the standard set by U.S. Space Force – ‘Way Above’ – to build on America’s dominance in space.”

About ManTech

ManTech provides mission-focused technology solutions and services for U.S. defense, intelligence community and federal civilian agencies. In business more than 52 years, we excel in full-spectrum cyber, data collection & analytics, enterprise IT, systems engineering and software application development solutions that support national and homeland security. Additional information on ManTech can be found at www.mantech.com.

Engine Failure Doomed Firefly Alpha’s Maiden Flight

The premature shutdown of one of Firefly Alpha’s four first stage Reaver engines 15 seconds into the flight doomed the maiden launch of the new booster from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Thursday, the company said.

“It was an uneventful shutdown – the engine didn’t fail — the propellant main valves on the engine simply closed and thrust terminated from engine 2. The vehicle continued to climb and maintain control for a total of about 145 seconds, whereas nominal first stage burn duration is about 165 seconds. However, due to missing the thrust of 1 of 4 engines the climb rate was slow, and the vehicle was challenged to maintain control without the thrust vectoring of engine 2,” Firefly said in a commentary accompanying a new video of the launch.

“Alpha was able to compensate at subsonic speeds, but as it moved through transonic and into supersonic flight, where control is most challenging, the three engine thrust vector control was insufficient and the vehicle tumbled out of control. The range terminated the flight using the explosive Flight Termination System (FTS). The rocket did not explode on its own,” the statement said.

“Firefly has commenced a thorough anomaly investigation to gain understanding of why engine 2 shutdown early, and uncover any other relevant unexpected events during flight. We will report root cause of the anomaly at the end of this investigation. In collaboration with the FAA and our partners at Space Launch Delta 30, we will return to conduct the second Alpha flight as soon as possible,” Firefly said.

“Although the vehicle did not make it to orbit, the day marked a major advancement for the Firefly team, as we demonstrated that we “arrived” as a company capable of building and launching rockets. We also acquired a wealth of flight data that will greatly enhance the likelihood of Alpha achieving orbit during its second flight. In short, we had a very successful first flight,” the company added.

Firefly Aerospace Reviewing Flight Data of Failed Alpha Rocket Launch

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif., September 2, 2021 (Firefly Aerospace PR) — Today we conducted the first-ever test flight of our Alpha booster. Prior to the anomaly, we had a countdown and lift off at 6:59 pm local time. While we did not meet all of our mission objectives, we did achieve a number of them: successful first stage ignition, liftoff off the pad, progression to supersonic speed, and we obtained a substantial amount of flight data.

More than two minutes into the flight, Apha experienced an anomaly resulting in the early end of the mission. At Firefly, our goal is to always look out for the safeyt of our employees, partners, and community. We are happy to report that there were no injuries associated with the anomaly.

While it’s too early to draw conclusions as to the root cause, we will be diligent in our investigation, in partnership with the FAA and Vandenberg Space Force Base. We will utilize the data we obtained from the test flight and apply it to future missions. Our engineers are currently combing through thousands of lines of ground and flight system telemetry in order to better understand what occurred.

We want to thank the teams at Vandenberg Space Force Base and Space Launch Delta 30 for their partnership in this launch and the FAA for their continued support. We will be providing further updates as more information becomes available.