Orion Abort Test Scheduled for July 2

On May 22, 2019, engineers move a test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft for the Ascent Abort-2 flight test from the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Space Launch Complex 46 at neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in preparation for its launch this summer. (Credits: NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — Media accreditation is open for an uncrewed flight test of the launch abort system of NASA’s Orion spacecraft on Tuesday, July 2. This test, Ascent Abort-2, will demonstrate the abort system can activate, steer the spacecraft, and carry astronauts to a safe distance if an emergency arises during Orion’s climb to orbit.

A 22,000-pound test version of the Orion spacecraft is scheduled to launch from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida on a rocket provided by Northrop Grumman.

 

During the three-minute test, the spacecraft, with a fully functional launch abort system, will climb to an altitude of about six miles, traveling at more than 1,000 miles per hour. At that point, the system’s powerful abort motor will fire, pulling Orion away from the booster.

Designing a system for human spaceflight means ensuring there are features in place that protect the astronauts aboard. Data gathered from this test will be used to validate and improve computer models of the spacecraft launch abort system’s performance and functions.

NASA is working to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. Orion is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with the Space Launch System rocket and Gateway in orbit around the Moon. Orion will sustain astronauts in deep space, provide emergency abort capability, and support a safe re-entry from lunar return velocities. Exploring the Moon helps create a vibrant future and advance technologies, capabilities and new opportunities for future missions to Mars.

For more information about the Orion spacecraft and Launch Abort System, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/orion

NASA Prepares for Future Moon Exploration with International Undersea Crew

The pictured NEEMO 22 diver is collecting a scientific sample for coral research using proxy tools, techniques, technologies, and training envisioned for future NASA planetary science exploration missions. (Credit: NASA)

MIAMI (NASA PR) — NASA will join an international crew on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean this summer to prepare for future deep space missions during the 10-day NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 23 expedition slated to begin June 10.

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Mark Sirangelo Departs NASA After 44 Days

Mark Sirangelo (Credit: SNC)

Well, that was fast.

On April 9, NASA announced the appointment of Mark Sirangelo as a special assistant to Administrator Jim Bridenstine for the purpose of overseeing the space agency’s plan to land astronauts on the moon by 2024.

On Thursday, Bridenstine announced that his new assistant is departing the agency. Sirangelo’s tenure lasted 44 days.

In announcing the appointment last month, Bridenstine said Sirangelo would

lead the planning for the proposed agency restructuring to create the Moon to Mars Mission Directorate that will manage the programs to develop the Gateway, human rated lander and surface systems to return to the Moon and establish a permanent presence. The new proposed Directorate will also manage the Exploration Research and Technology programs to enable capabilities for exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Yesterday, the NASA administrator blamed House and Senate members for refusing to approve the creation of the Moon to Mars Mission Directorate.

The proposal was not accepted at this time, so we will move forward under our current organizational structure within the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEO). We are exploring what organizational changes within HEO are necessary to ensure we maximize efficiencies and achieve the end state of landing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.

As you also may know, Mark Sirangelo has been serving as an advisor on our lunar exploration plan and the reorganizational proposal that went forward to Congress. Given NASA is no longer pursuing the new mission directorate, Mark has opted to pursue other opportunities. I want to personally thank Mark for his service and his valuable contributions to the agency.

Sirangelo previously served as head of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems and CEO of SpaceDev, its predecessor company. He resigned from the company in July 2018 and became a scholar in residence at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The announcement came on the same day NASA announced the awarding of a $375 million contract to Maxar Technologies for the power and propulsion element of the human-tended Lunar Gateway. The facility will serve as a base for human missions to and from the lunar surface.

SpaceX Launches 60 Starlink Satellites as Part of Satellite Internet Constellation

60 Starlink satellites begin to separate after deployment from the Falcon 9 second stage. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched 60 Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral on Thursday evening, kicking off an ambitious program to provide global broadband services from space.

The satellites separated as a group from the second stage of the booster one hour and two minutes after the on-time launch at 10:30 p.m. EDT. Video from an on-board camera showed the satellites slowly separating from each other at an altitude of 440 km before SpaceX ended the webcast.

SpaceX has received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to launch nearly 12,000 satellites to provide global communications services. Founder Elon Musk has said the constellation will be economically viable when 1,000 satellites are operational.

SpaceX designed Starlink to connect end users with low latency, high bandwidth broadband services. With a flat-panel design featuring multiple high-throughput antennas and a single solar array, each Starlink satellite weighs approximately 227 kg, allowing SpaceX to maximize mass production and take full advantage of Falcon 9’s launch capabilities.

To adjust position on orbit, maintain intended altitude, and deorbit, Starlink satellites feature Hall thrusters powered by krypton. Designed and built upon the heritage of Dragon, each spacecraft is equipped with a Startracker navigation system that allows SpaceX to point the satellites with precision.

The Falcon 9’s first stage successfully landed on SpaceX’s “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. It was the third launch for the stage, which previously supported the Telstar 18 VANTAGE mission in September 2018 and the Iridium-8 mission in January 2019.

China Loses Military Satellite in Launch Failure

Chinese official media have confirmed that a top-secret military satellite was lost due to the failure of a Long March 4C booster. The rocket took off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center at around 6:49 a.m. local time on Thursday.

Video of the flight shows the rocket apparently exploding and raining down debris on the countryside.

It took the official Xinhua news agency about 15 hours to confirm the failure. Xinhua said the problem occurred in the rocket’s third stage after the first two stages performed as planned.

This was China’s second launch failure of 2019. In late March, OneSpace’s four-stage, solid fuel OS-M rocket veered off course about a minute after launch from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. A CubeSat was lost in the setback for the private launch company.

Man Charged With Falsifying Inspection Reports for Space Parts Supplied to SpaceX, DOD

Crowd gathers to watch as NASA and SpaceX make history by launching the first commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off at 2:49 a.m. EST Saturday on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credits: NASA)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (Justice Department PR) — U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that James Smalley, 41, of Penn Yan, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with falsifying inspection reports for space parts. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard A. Resnick, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, the defendant was a Quality Assurance Engineer at PMI Industries, LLC, a Rochester aerospace precision machining service, specializing in high-tolerance machining for flight critical aerospace parts used to build space flight vehicles by SpaceX and other Department of Defense aerospace contractors.

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Maxar Teams with Blue Origin, Draper on Lunar Gateway Power & Propulsion Element

The power and propulsion element of NASA’s Gateway is a high-power, 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft – three times more powerful than current capabilities. (Credits: NASA)

Maxar partners with Blue Origin and Draper to design, build and demonstrate operations of a spacecraft that could support returning humans to the surface of the Moon by 2024

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (Maxar Technologies PR)– Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR), a global technology innovator powering the new space economy, today announced it has been selected by NASA to build and perform a spaceflight demonstration of the lunar Gateway’s power and propulsion element spacecraft. Blue Origin and Draper will join the Maxar-led team in designing, building and operating the spacecraft through the demonstration period. The power and propulsion element is a key component to NASA’s overall plans to land American astronauts on the surface of the Moon by 2024, and will be the first segment of the Gateway tested in space.

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NASA Selects Maxar to Build Lunar Gateway Power & Propulsion Element

The power and propulsion element of NASA’s Gateway is a high-power, 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft – three times more powerful than current capabilities. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In one of the first steps of the agency’s Artemis lunar exploration plans, NASA announced on Thursday the selection of Maxar Technologies, formerly SSL, in Westminster, Colorado, to develop and demonstrate power, propulsion and communications capabilities for NASA’s lunar Gateway.

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NASA Invites Public to Submit Names to Fly Aboard Next Mars Rover

Members of the public who want to send their name to Mars on NASA’s next rover mission to the Red Planet (Mars 2020) can get a souvenir boarding pass and their names etched on microchips to be affixed to the rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Although it will be years before the first humans set foot on Mars, NASA is giving the public an opportunity to send their names — stenciled on chips — to the Red Planet with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, which represents the initial leg of humanity’s first round trip to another planet. The rover is scheduled to launch as early as July 2020, with the spacecraft expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021.

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NASA Invites Public to Help Asteroid Mission Choose Sample Site

This image shows a view of asteroid Bennu’s surface in a region near the equator. It was taken by the PolyCam camera on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on March 21 from a distance of 2.2 miles (3.5 km). The field of view is 158.5 ft (48.3 m). For scale, the light-colored rock in the upper left corner of the image is 24 ft (7.4 m) wide. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Citizen scientists assemble! NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid Bennu needs extra pairs of eyes to help choose its sample collection site on the asteroid – and to look for anything else that might be scientifically interesting.

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Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics Selected for NASA SBIR Phase II Awards

NASA has selected Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards to continue developing technologies to further human missions to deep space and  Mars. Each award is worth up to $750,000 over two years.

“The Advanced Organic Waste Gasifier (AOWG) is a technology designed to convert organic wastes generated during human spaceflight into clean water for mission consumables and gases suitable for venting to minimize vehicle mass for Mars transit and return missions,” the company said in a proposal summary.

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SpaceX to Launch 60 Starlink Satellites on Thursday

60 Starlink satellites inside the Falcon 9 payload fairing. (Credit: Elon Musk)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Thursday, May 23 for the launch of 60Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. SpaceX’s Starlink is a next-generation satellite network capable of connecting the globe, especially reaching those who are not yet connected, with reliable and affordable broadband internet services.

The launch window opens at 10:30p.m. EDT on May 23, or 2:30 UTC on May 24, and closes at 12:00 a.m. on May 24, or 4:00 UTC. A backup launch window opens on Friday, May 24at 10:30 p.m. EDT, or 2:30 UTC on May 25, and closes at 12:00 a.m.on May 25, or 4:00 UTC. The Launch webcast will go live about 15 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com/webcast.

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SpaceX Protests USAF Launcher Development Awards to Rivals

SpaceX is protesting the U.S. Air Force decision to award $2.3 billion in launch vehicle development funding to rivals Blue Origin,  Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems and United Launch Alliance last year.

SpaceX “respectfully challenges the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s evaluation of proposals and portfolio award decision under the Launch Services Agreement (“LSA”)…as arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law,”  the company said in its complaint. “SpaceX does not seek any advantage, but only the opportunity to compete for national security missions on a fair and level playing field.”

The protest, which SpaceX had hoped to keep secret, says that awards were given to “three unproven rockets based on unstated metrics, unequal treatment under the procurement criteria, and opaque industrial planning.” SpaceX said.

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Trump to Nominate Former Aerospace Corporation Chairwoman for USAF Secretary

Barbara Barrett

President Donald Trump tweeted today that he planned to nominate former Aerospace Corporation Chairwoman Barbara Barrett to replace Heather Wilson as U.S. Air Force secretary.

Barrett, 68, is a businesswoman , politician and former diplomat. Her business career includes serving as:  the founding chairwoman of Valley Bank of Arizona; a partner in a Phoenix law firm; and as executives in two Fortune 500 companies.

In 1994, she ran unsuccessfully for governor of Arizona as a Republican. Barrett served as U.S. ambassador to Finland in 2008-09 under President George W. Bush. She also served as a senior advisor to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

Barrett was the first civilian female to land in an F/A-18 Hornet jet fighter on an aircraft carrier. She trained in Russia as an astronaut and was the backup to Canadian space tourist Guy Laliberte for the Soyuz TM-16 flight to the International Space Station in 2009.

Barrett also served as deputty administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and as vice chairwoman of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board.