Astrobotic Awarded NASA Contract to Develop UltraNav Smart Camera for Next-Gen Space Missions

Astrobotic’s UltraNav Aims to make Advanced Vision-Based Navigation Accessible to the Broader Space Industry

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) – NASA has selected Astrobotic for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II award to continue its development of UltraNav, a low-cost, autonomous, visual navigation system for spacecraft. The system has wide-ranging applications, from the servicing of Earth satellites to journeys to challenging space destinations such as the lunar poles or Martian mountains.

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Astroscale U.S. Enters the GEO Satellite Life Extension Market

DENVER, June 3, 2020 (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale U.S. Inc., the U.S. unit of Astroscale Holdings Inc., the market leader in securing long-term orbital sustainability, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the intellectual property and other assets and to hire certain members of the staff of Effective Space Solutions R&D Ltd. (“ESS”), an Israeli satellite life-extension and servicing company.

These moves make Astroscale the only company solely dedicated to on-orbit services across low-earth (“LEO”) and geostationary (“GEO”) orbits and bring the company closer to realizing its vision of orbital sustainability for future generations. The closing of the transaction is contingent upon receipt of certain regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

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Xplore To Host Space for Humanity Payload on its First Moon Mission

Xcraft (Credit: Xplore)

Xplore Reserves Private Payload for Non-profit Organization, Space for Humanity

SEATTLE, June 3, 2020 (Xplore PR) – Xplore Inc., a commercial space company providing Space as a ServiceTM today announced that space industry leader Dylan Taylor plans to reserve payload space on Xplore’s first mission beyond Earth orbit. The payload will be hosted onboard the XcraftTM, Xplore’s highly capable, multi-mission spacecraft designed to perform frequent, low-cost missions in the inner solar system.

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Governor Appoints 3 New Members to New Mexico Spaceport Authority

Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

SANTA FE, N.M. (NM Economic Development Department PR) – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has appointed three new members to the New Mexico Spaceport Authority and re-appointed four other members, Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes announced today.

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Preparations Resume for Vega’s Upcoming Mission with 53 Small Satellites

Arianespace personnel are utilizing smart glasses during certain payload checkout activities for Flight VV16 at the Spaceport in French Guiana, enabling customers to remotely monitor operations performed on satellites that will be orbited this month by the Vega light-lift launcher. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — The launch campaign has resumed for Arianespace’s next mission, which will be the proof-of-concept flight with the Vega launcher’s “ride-share” configuration – known as the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS).

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SpaceX to Launch Next Starlink Batch of Satellites on Wednesday Night

Sixty Starlink satellites separate from a Falcon 9 second stage on April 22, 2020. (Credit: SpaceX website)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Wednesday June 3 at 9:25 p.m. EDT, 1:25 UTC on June 4, for its eighth launch of Starlink satellites. Falcon 9 will lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. A backup opportunity is available on Thursday, June 4 at 9:03 p.m. EDT, 1:03 UTC on June 5.

You can watch the launch webcast here, starting about 10 minutes before liftoff.

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The Extraordinary Sample-Gathering System of NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover

The first samples from the Moon were collected by two astronauts. The first samples collected for eventual return to Earth from Mars will take three robots aboard the Perseverance rover working as one. Together, they make up the mission’s Sample Caching System detailed in this video. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The samples Apollo 11 brought back to Earth from the Moon were humanity’s first from another celestial body. NASA’s upcoming Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission will collect the first samples from another planet (the red one) for return to Earth by subsequent missions. In place of astronauts, the Perseverance rover will rely on the most complex, capable and cleanest mechanism ever to be sent into space, the Sample Caching System.

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Texas Astronomer Uses 25-year-old Hubble Data to Confirm Planet Proxima Centauri c

Fritz Benedict is an emeritus Senior Research Scientist with The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory. (Credit: McDonald Observatory)

AUSTIN (McDonald Observatory PR) — Fritz Benedict has used data he took over two decades ago with Hubble Space Telescope to confirm the existence of another planet around the Sun’s nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri, and to pin down the planet’s orbit and mass.

Benedict, an emeritus Senior Research Scientist with McDonald Observatory at The University of Texas at Austin, will present his findings today in a scientific session and then in a press conference at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

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NASA Laser Communications Project Running Behind Schedule, Over Budget

Laser Relay Data Demonstration project (Credit: Universities Space Research Association)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A NASA project to demonstrate advanced optical laser communications in space is running nearly $50 million over budget and 14 months behind schedule, according to a recent assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) project is designed to advance optical communication technology for use on near-Earth and deep space missions.

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JPL Mission Breaks Record for Smallest Satellite to Detect an Exoplanet

ASTERIA was deployed from the International Space Station on November 20, 2017. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

About the size of a briefcase, the CubeSat was built to test new technologies but exceeded expectations by spotting a planet outside our solar system.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Long before it was deployed into low-Earth orbit from the International Space Station in Nov. 2017, the tiny ASTERIA spacecraft had a big goal: to prove that a satellite roughly the size of a briefcase could perform some of the complex tasks much larger space observatories use to study exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system. A new paper soon to be published in the Astronomical Journal describes how ASTERIA (short for Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics) didn’t just demonstrate it could perform those tasks but went above and beyond, detecting the known exoplanet 55 Cancri e.

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Queen’s Brian May Works to Probe Origin of Asteroids

Brian May (Credit: ESA)

NICE, France (ESA PR) — Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May has teamed up with asteroid researchers to investigate striking similarities and a puzzling difference between separate bodies explored by space probes. The research team ran a supercomputer-based ‘fight club’ involving simulated large asteroid collisions to probe the objects’ likely origins. Their work is reported in Nature Communications.  

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Space Station Astronauts Open Nasdaq Trading

NASA astronauts (from left) Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley and Chris Cassidy.

Video Caption: A historic bell ringing, 250 miles above Earth.

Today we recognized the achievements of our #LaunchAmerica mission with NASA Astronauts Chris Cassidy, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley who rung the captain’s bell onboard the International Space Station to open the day’s trading on June 2.

Behnken and Hurley arrived at the station on May 31, a day after becoming the first NASA astronauts to launch on a commercial rocket. The launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft marked the return of human launches from U.S. soil to the space station for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle program in 2011.

Learn more about the mission: https://www.nasa.gov/launchamerica/

NASA astronauts (from left) Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley and Chris Cassidy appear on Nasdaq’s large television screen above Times Square in New York on June 2, 2020. The three astronauts, part of the International Space Station’s Expedition 63 crew, rang the ship’s bell onboard the station to open the day’s trading. (Credit: Nasdaq/Rohini Shahriar)

Space-based Early Warning Sensor Design Passes Critical Milestone

Raytheon Intelligence & Space supports U.S. Space Force “Go Fast” program for 2025 launch

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., May 27, 2020 (Raytheon PR) – Raytheon Intelligence & Space’s competitive sensor payload design passed its Preliminary Design Review for the U.S. Space Force’s Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Block 0 GEO missile warning satellites being designed and built by spacecraft prime contractor Lockheed Martin Space.

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NASA Seeking US Citizens for Social Isolation Study for Moon and Mars Missions

Mars 500 crew in isolation.

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — As many around the world are staying at home in response to the global coronavirus pandemic, NASA is preparing for its next spaceflight simulation study and is seeking healthy participants to live together with a small crew in isolation for eight months in Moscow, Russia.

The analog mission is the next in a series that will help NASA learn about the physiological and psychological effects of isolation and confinement on humans in preparation for Artemis exploration missions to the Moon and future long-duration missions to Mars.

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