DLR Teams with 5 European Companies to Develop Reusable Launch Vehicles

conceptual sketch of RETALT1 (Credit: DLR)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The German Aerospace Center  (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and five European companies have teamed up in the RETro Propulsion Assisted Landing Technologies (RETALT) project to jointly advance the research and development of key technologies for European vertical-landing launch vehicles. The consortium will spend three years examining the aerodynamics, aerothermodynamics – that is, in-flight surface temperatures – flight dynamics during both the outward and return flight phases, and navigation and control, as well as structural components, materials and mechanisms.

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NASA Selects Flying Mission to Study Titan for Origins, Signs of Life

Dragonfly flying over the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.

WASHINGTON (NASA PR)  — NASA has announced that our next destination in the solar system is the unique, richly organic world Titan. Advancing our search for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly mission will fly multiple sorties to sample and examine sites around Saturn’s icy moon.

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NASA Selects Johns Hopkins APL to Lead Mission to Saturn’s Exotic Moon Titan

Artist rendering of Dragonfly on Titan’s surface. (Credit: Johns Hopkins APL)

LAUREL, Md. (JHUAPL PR) — It sounds like science fiction: fly a robotic rotorcraft over the dunes of an alien moon. But NASA is giving a team led by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, the opportunity to turn this idea into space exploration reality.

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ESA to Mark Asteroid Day on June 30

Asteroid Ryugu with north polar boulder (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu and AIST)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA will be participating in this year’s Asteroid Day, the UN-endorsed global awareness campaign day on the small rocky bodies scattered across space, taking place on Sunday, 30 June.

The main event will be a 24-hour live broadcast streamed from Luxembourg City, in coordination with hundreds of other events all over Europe and the world.

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ESA’s Expertise to Support Portugal’s Launch Program

Azores from space

PARIS (ESA PR) — Portugal is developing the infrastructure for a national spaceport on one of the islands of the Azores archipelago, Santa Maria, a European launch and landing location for small satellites.

As an ESA Member State, Portugal has requested ESA’s tailored expertise and technical assistance in an agreement signed on 21 June by ESA Director General Jan Wörner and Manuel Heitor, Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education.
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Coverage Set for NASA Test of Orion Abort System

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, Fal. (NASA PR) — NASA Television will broadcast launch and prelaunch activities for the Ascent Abort-2 flight test of the launch abort system for NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which will help pave the way for Artemis missions with astronauts to the Moon and then Mars.

The test’s four-hour launch window opens at 7 a.m. EDT Tuesday, July 2. A test version of the crew module will launch from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA TV coverage will begin at 6:40 a.m.

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Apollo Mission Control Reopens in All Its Historic Glory

Overall view of the Mission Operations Control Room in the Mission Control Center at the Manned Spacecraft Center showing the flight controllers celebrating the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission on Jul 24, 1969. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — On July 20, 1969, the United States achieved the most profound milestone of human accomplishment when it landed NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon, while their command module pilot Michael Collins orbited above. The extraordinary team of experts that guided these first three brave astronauts on their journey ran the hour-by-hour operations of the Apollo 11 mission from a facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston – a facility that has been given a new life as a source of learning and inspiration.

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NASA to Announce New Solar System Mission on Thursday

Credit: USPS

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will announce a major new science mission to explore our solar system during a broadcast of NASA Science Live at 4 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 27. The announcement will air on NASA Television, the agency’s website, Facebook Live, YouTube, Periscope and USTREAM.

The public can send questions during the event using the hashtag #askNASA or by leaving a comment in the chat section of Facebook, Periscope or YouTube.

NASA also will host a media teleconference at 5 p.m. the same day with:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
  • Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division
  • Curt Niebur, Lead Program Scientist for New Frontiers
  • Principal investigator of the selected mission

The teleconference audio will stream live at:

https://www.nasa.gov/live

On Monday, July 1, NASA will host a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) about the mission announcement. Questions can be submitted to the Reddit AMA event when it begins at 3 p.m.

For more information on NASA programs and activities, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov  

First Falcon Heavy Mission for Defense Department Successfully Launched

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying 24 satellites as part of the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission launches from Launch Complex 39A, Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center and its mission partners, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, successfully launched the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 mission from the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A at 2:30 a.m. EDT on June 25 (11:30 p.m. Pacific, June 24).

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Falcon Heavy Carried Ashes of 152 People into Orbit

William Pogue on Skylab (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy on Tuesday launched the ashes of a former NASA astronaut, a space journalist, a space historian and a professional Japanese baseball player into orbit earlier this week.

The Celestis heritage flight, which contained the ashes of 152 people, was a payload aboard General Atomics Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite. OTB is expected to orbit the Earth for 25 years.

For NASA astronaut William Pogue, the flight marked a return to space. Pogue spent a record 84 days aboard the Skylab space station in 1973-74.

The ashes of space journalist Frank Sietzen, Jr. and space historian James M. Busby were also aboard. So were the remains of Japanese professional baseball star Masaru Tomita.

Celestis is a Houston-based company that arranges for memorial flights into space aboard suborbital and orbital launches.

Tethers Unlimited Aims to Put SPIDERs on Mars

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the 1970’s, David Bowie sang about Ziggy Stardust and the spiders from Mars. If Tethers Unlimited has its way, the Red Planet will be crawling with them.

Earlier this month, NASA selected the Bothell, Washington-based company for a small business award to work on its Sensing and Positioning in Deep Environments with Retrieval (SPIDER) surface exploration system.

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Been There, Crashed That: SpaceIL Won’t Return to Moon with Beresheet 2

Beresheet impact site as seen by LROC 11 days after the attempted landing. Date in lower left indicates when the image was taken. (Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

Two months after crashing its Beresheet spacecraft into the moon, SpaceIL has decided the lunar surface is “not a sufficiently great challenge” to which to send a second lander to visit.

“The journey of Beresheet to the Moon, despite the hard landing, will last in the memory of Israel and the world as a successful one, a breakthrough, and very significant for future human journeys to the Moon,” SpaceIL said in a statement.

“Feedback that we received from across the world in the weeks following the landing pointed toward the mission being considered an extraordinary success and breaking many world records,” the statement added.

SpaceIL did not say where precisely it will send the next mission. My guess is Mars, Venus or an asteroid would be more challenging targets that might lie within SpaceIL’s capabilities and budget.

The $100 million Beresheet mission ended in a crash on April 11 after a command sent to correct a problem with one of the lander’s inertial measurement unit (IMUs) resulted in the spacecraft turning off its engine as it descended toward the lunar surface. Beresheet was destroyed when it slammed into the moon’s Sea of Serenity.

SpaceIL began as a competitor in the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize. After the prize was terminated with no winner, SpaceIL raised funding to undertake the mission.

The team’s primary benefactor, Morris Kahn, has vowed to help fund a second Beresheet spacecraft. Now what remains is to decide where the spacecraft will go.

Breakthrough Listen Publishes Most Comprehensive and Sensitive Search for Radio Technosignatures Ever Performed

Largest Data Set in the History of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Released to The Public.

Over one thousand stars scanned for signals using Green Bank and Parkes Telescopes; Data released to the astronomical community.

San Francisco (Breakthrough Initiatives PR) — Breakthrough Listen – the astronomical program searching for signs of intelligent life in the Universe – has submitted two publications to leading astrophysics journals, describing the analysis of its first three years of radio observations and the availability of a petabyte of radio and optical telescope data. This represents the largest release of SETI data in the history of its field.

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Report: Soyuz Suffered Anomaly While Returning to Earth

NASA astronaut Anne McClain is assisted out of the Soyuz MS-11 that returned her and crewmates Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency back to Earth on June 24, 2019, landing in a remote area near Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, after 204 days aboard the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

RussianSpaceWeb.com reports that the Soyuz returning three astronauts back from a six-months stay aboard the International Space System suffered an anomaly. The problem occurred after the Soyuz spacecraft fired its main SKD engine in a deorbit maneuver.

Moments after the completion of the braking maneuver, the emergency signal was heard inside the Descent Module and the communications between the crew and mission control discussed a failure of the first manifold in the integrated propulsion system of the Soyuz spacecraft and the switch to the second manifold. Kononenko first reported K1B (Manifold DPO-B) emergency at 05:02:54 Moscow Time and subsequently confirmed a switch to the second manifold. NASA later confirmed the problem, but did not provide any details.

Manifod DPO-B provides fuel to 12 thrusters that steer the Soyuz spacecraft. It is not clear how serious the failure was, or whether it has occurred on previous missions.

RussianSpaceWeb.com reported that the Soyuz subsequently split into the separate modules as planned. The habitation module carrying Russian Commander Oleg Kononenko, American Anne McClain and Canadian David Saint-Jacques reentered the atmosphere and touched down safely in Kazakhstan.