NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Successfully Touches Asteroid

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission readies itself to touch the surface of asteroid Bennu. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft unfurled its robotic arm Tuesday, and in a first for the agency, briefly touched an asteroid to collect dust and pebbles from the surface for delivery to Earth in 2023.

This well-preserved, ancient asteroid, known as Bennu, is currently more than 200 million miles (321 million kilometers) from Earth. Bennu offers scientists a window into the early solar system as it was first taking shape billions of years ago and flinging ingredients that could have helped seed life on Earth. If Tuesday’s sample collection event, known as “Touch-And-Go” (TAG), provided enough of a sample, mission teams will command the spacecraft to begin stowing the precious primordial cargo to begin its journey back to Earth in March 2021. Otherwise, they will prepare for another attempt in January.

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Kepler Communications Awards Service Agreement to Momentus

GEN1 satellite (Credit: Kepler Communications)

SANTA CLARA, Calif., October 20th, 2020 (Momentus PR) — Momentus Inc. (“Momentus” or the “Company”), a commercial space company offering in-space infrastructure services, and Kepler Communications Inc. (“Kepler”), developer and operator of next-gen satellite communications technologies, have signed a launch service agreement to deploy two additional satellites for Kepler’s GEN1 constellation in 2021. Momentus’ rideshare service will include launch provisions and delivery to the customer’s desired orbital altitude while maintaining the SSO inclination using Momentus’ Vigoride transfer vehicle.

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Astrobotic Unveils New Headquarters in Pittsburgh

Officials cut a ceremonial ribbon at Astrobotic’s new headquarters. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

Astrobotic, space robotics company, opens one of the largest private facilities in the world dedicated to lunar operations

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic officially opened its new headquarters in Pittsburgh in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday. The 47,000 square foot complex is the largest private facility in the world dedicated to lunar logistics. Astrobotic’s Peregrine and Griffin lunar landers will be built on-site, with Peregrine set to become the first commercial mission to the Moon, and the first American lander on the Moon since the Apollo missions.

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NASA Johnson Builds Labs to Study New Asteroid Samples, Cosmic Mysteries

A rendering of the new asteroid lab being built at Johnson Space Center. When the samples are returned to Earth in 2023 they will be brought to this lab for curation and initial examination. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — When the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft touches asteroid Bennu, it will capture NASA’s first sample from an asteroid and provide rare specimens for research that scientists hope will help them shed light on the many mysteries of our solar system’s formation.

The sample is scheduled for return to Earth in 2023 to be examined and stored in state-of-the-art curation facilities now under construction at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The labs will be managed by NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science division, also known as ARES. The division is home to the world’s greatest astromaterials collections — including lunar rocks, solar wind particles, meteorites, and comet samples — and some of the experts who research them.

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Bishop Airlock Cycles Pre-Purchased by NASA and European Space Agency

Workers stand before NanoRacks airlock. (Credit: NanoRacks)

WASHINGTON, DC, OCTOBER 20, 2020 (Nanoracks PR) – Nanoracks is pleased to announce that both NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have pre-purchased Bishop Airlock Cycles for agency and third-party use. The Nanoracks Bishop Airlock, launching this Fall to the International Space Station (ISS), is the first-ever commercially built, owned, and operated airlock on the ISS and provides five times the existing payload volume currently available on station.

ESA has pre-purchased five airlock cycles, and NASA six, with an option for four additional cycles at a discounted rate.

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Firefly Aerospace Announces New Customer Agreements, Completes Stage 1 Acceptance Testing Ahead of First Alpha Launch

CEDAR PARK, Texas, Oct. 20, 2020 (Firefly Aerospace PR) — Firefly Aerospace, Inc., a leading provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft, and in-space services, today announced the successful acceptance test of the first stage of its Alpha launch vehicle for its inaugural flight later this year, and the execution of new customer agreements.

Firefly has signed a Launch Services Agreement (LSA) with Spire Global (Spire) for the launch of Lemur spacecraft on the Alpha launch vehicle. The LSA will provide for the launch of Spire spacecraft on multiple Alpha missions over the contract period. Firefly has also executed an LSA with Geometric Space Corporation for the full payload capacity of an Alpha launch vehicle.

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Microsoft’s Azure Space Partners with SpaceX, SES, Viasat and Others

Credit: Microsoft

SEATTLE (Microsoft PR) — Microsoft is moving into the final frontier with Azure Space, a new initiative that will deliver innovation to serve the mission needs of the space industry, and collaborating with industry leaders to bring new and enhanced offerings to organizations across the public and private sector.

As barriers to space access fall, organizations across a multitude of industries are taking advantage of the opportunities that satellites and other space technologies can offer for endeavors such as earth observation and global satellite communications. This creates rich opportunities as well as challenges.

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NASA to Broadcast OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Collection Activities

The Nightingale Crater on asteroid Bennu is the primary sample collection site for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx’s mission. The image is overlaid with a graphic of the spacecraft to illustrate the scale of the site. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will broadcast coverage of a first for the agency as its Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission attempts to collect a sample of asteroid Bennu on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 6:12 p.m. EDT.

Live coverage of the spacecraft’s descent to the asteroid’s surface for its “Touch-And-Go,” or TAG, maneuver, which will be managed by Lockheed Martin Space near Denver, will begin at 5 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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Supersonic & Hypersonic Civilian Transport Projects in Development

Overture supersonic passenger jet (Credit: Boom Supersonic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boom Supersonic’s recent rollout of its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft marked a milestone in an accelerating race to revive an era of civilian supersonic travel that ended when the Concorde jetliner was retired in 2003.

XB-1, aka Baby Boom, is set to begin flight tests next year from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The Mach 2.2 (2,717 km/h, 1,688 mph) vehicle is the precursor to Boom’s 55-seat Overture airliner, which is scheduled to begin carrying passengers in 2029.

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Brazil Launches Public Consultation on Proposed National Space Policy

BRASILIA (Brazilian Space Agency PR) — It is a consultation with society regarding the proposal for a National Space Policy, to be established by presidential decree.

A country’s competence in space activities is a strategic asset that generates significant focus for national and international investments. An increasing number of nations, including developing ones, have invested in their space programs to assert their sovereignty, to increase national security and economic and social development through the use of space systems.

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ULA CEO Tory Bruno Visits The Space Show this Week

This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, Oct. 19, 2020; 7 PM PDT (9 PM CDT; 10 PM EDT) NO PROGRAM TODAY.

2. Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, 7 PM PDT (9 PM CDT; 10 PM EDT): We welcome AMANDA DRESCHLER and MICHAEL LIVINGSTON to discuss their Covid lockdown special film, ” We Can’t Go On.” For details see the upcoming show menu and the blog.

3. Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020; Hotel Mars TBA pre-recorded. See upcoming show menu on the home page for program details.

4. Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020: No program today.

5. Friday, Oct. 23, 2020; 9:30-11 AM PDT; 11:30 AM-1 PM CDT; 12:30-2 PM EDT: We welcome back TORY BRUNO, CEO of ULA.

6. Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020 12-1:30 PM PDT, (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): We welcome DR. ERIK SEEDHOUSE to discuss his latest books and more.

mPower Technology’s DragonSCALES Solar Cells to Launch on Sparkwing In-Orbit Demonstrator with Momentus’ Vigoride Transfer Vehicle

Credit: mPower Technology

Innovative silicon solution will provide significant cost and performance advantages for next-generation satellite designs

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (mPower Technology) — Innovative solar technology company,  mPower Technology, announced that its DragonSCALES™ solar cell prototype has completed integration and testing on a  Sparkwing in-orbit solar array technology demonstrator in preparation for inclusion on Momentus’ Vigoride transfer vehicle launch taking place in the fourth quarter of 2020.

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Tupperware Brands Awarded U.S. Patent for PONDS, a NASA-Tested Product Used to Grow Vegetables in Space

All 12 PONDS units are photographed inside the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida following assembly. The PONDS units are launching to the International Space Station on SpaceX’s 20th Commercial Resupply Services mission for their third technology demonstration in an effort to study the growth of lettuce in an entirely passive growth system. (Credits: Techshot, Inc.)

ORLANDO, Fla., (Tupperware Brands PR) — Tupperware Brands announces the issuance of a U.S. patent for PONDS (Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System) a unique device designed to grow vegetables in low earth orbit with minimal maintenance.

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