NASA Awards Contract for Earth Observing Satellite Instrument

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Atmosphere Science Investigator-led Processing System (SIPS) contract to the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin.

The total value of this cost-no fee contract is $17,084,053. The contract includes a base year that begins on July 1, and has four options to extend the contract through March 31, 2025.

The contractor will process and reprocess the data from the VIIRS instrument from the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) series of satellites. The contractor will deliver Earth Observing System (EOS)-like standard and near real time atmosphere data products to the Earth Observing System Data and Information System as required by NASA Headquarters Earth Science Division for NASA researchers.

The JPSS missions are funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide global environmental data in low-Earth polar orbit in support of NOAA’s mission. NASA is the acquisition agent for the flight systems. NASA also acquires JPSS data for its research objectives.

New Funding Call for UK Earth Observation Sector

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — More than £800,000 [$983,000] is available to the UK space sector as part of European Space Agency (ESA) support for innovative commercial projects related to Earth Observation.

The programme, InCubed, aims to support industry-led initiatives that will open new market opportunities. The call will bring innovative systems and products to market faster and help Earth Observation businesses compete in the global marketplace.

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Maxar Technologies Announces its Intention to Acquire Vricon, Inc. to Accelerate Growth for 3D Technology

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (Maxar Technologies PR) — Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR), a trusted partner and innovator in Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure, today announced its intent to exercise its call option to take full ownership of 3D data and analytics firm Vricon, Inc., for approximately $140 million, or approximately $115 million net of estimated cash at closing.

To fund the transaction, Maxar intends to issue $150 million in aggregate principal amount of new senior secured notes. Maxar has also agreed to repurchase $150 million in aggregate principal amount of existing notes using the proceeds of the recent sale of its MDA business.

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NASA Sinks More Money into SLS

The manufacture and checkout of all 10 motor segments for the first Artemis flight were completed in January at Northrop Grumman’s factory in Promontory, Utah. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA has taken the next steps toward building Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters to support as many as six additional flights, for a total of up to nine Artemis missions. The agency is continuing to work with Northrop Grumman of Brigham City, Utah, the current lead contractor for the solid rocket boosters that will launch the first three Artemis missions, including the mission that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024.

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International Asteroid Day is Tuesday

LUXEMBOURG, 22 June 2020 (Asteroid Day PR) — The Asteroid Foundation returns with Asteroid Day LIVE Digital from Luxembourg. This year, the event is a fully digital celebration of asteroid science and exploration. Panel discussions and one-on-one interviews with astronauts and world experts will be broadcast on 30 June 2020.

Asteroid Day LIVE Digital from Luxembourg is a five-hour program with panel discussions including:

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NASA Gets Failing Grade on Information Security

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has failed to implement an effective cyber security program even though the valuable technical and intellectual capital it possesses “presents a high-value target for hackers and criminals,” according to a new report from the agency’s Office of Inspector General (IG).

“NASA has not implemented an effective Agency-wide information security program. [System Security Plan (SSP)] documentation for all six information systems we reviewed contained numerous instances of incomplete, inaccurate, or missing information,” the report stated.

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This Week on The Space Show

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

1 Monday, June 29; 7 PM PDT (9 PM CDT; 10 PM EDT) No special programming for this date.

2. Tuesday, June 30, 2020, 7 PM PDT (9 PM CDT; 10 PM EDT) We welcome back ROD PYLE with Dr. ANTHONY PAUSTIAN for the NSS Day In Space and a look at ISDC 2021.

3. Wednesday, July 1, 2020; Hotel Mars TBA pre-recorded. See upcoming show menu on the home page for program details.

4. Thursday, July 2, 2020: 7-8:30 PM PDT (9-10:30 pm CDT; 10-11:30 PM EDT): No special program today.

5. Friday, July 3, 2020; 9:30-11 AM PDT; 11:30 AM-1 PM CDT; 12:30-2 PM EDT. No show due to the July 4th holiday weekend.

6. Sunday, July 6, 2020 12-1:30 PM PDT, (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): No show today due to July 4th holiday weekend.

ESA Awards €1 Million to NanoAvionics to Develop New Satellite Propulsion Technologies

VILNIUS, Lithuania (NanoAvioncs PR) — The European Space Agency (ESA) has granted 1 million euros ($1.1 million) to nanosatellite mission integrator NanoAvionics to develop key components for small satellite propulsion systems.

The new propulsion technologies, with a thrust of up to 5N, aim to further reduce the cost of small satellite projects while making each satellite more reliable, propellant supply chains safer, and constellations more economical. Based on those components a new generation of propulsion systems for small satellites will be used in future ESA missions, and available to commercial satellite operators across the world.

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Yutu 2 Reveals Possible Causes of Unknown Gelatinous Substance on Moon

Yutu-2 lunar rover near an impact crater. (Credit: China National Space Administration)

BEIJING (China National Space Administration PR) — Since landing on the back of the moon, the Chang’e 4 lander and the Yutu-2 lunar rover have been operating successfully for more than 500 days, and have achieved many results in the scientific fields such as the material composition and underground structure of the landing zone.

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OneWeb – The Opportunity for the UK

OneWeb satellite (Credit: OneWeb)

HARWELL, UK (Satellite Applications Catapult PR) — According to press reports, the UK government is a partner in a bid for OneWeb, the UK- headquartered satellite communications company which, following the well-publicised financial difficulties of a major investor, entered Chapter 11 in March. If these reports are true, and the bid is successful, then it is great news for the UK space sector and UK citizens.

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Working Remotely at the German Space Operations Center – New Plasma Crystal Experiments on ISS

PK-4 – a neon tube as an experimental reactor (Credit: MPE)
  • Important milestone – successful completion of the 10th measurement campaign with the PK-4 plasma crystal laboratory on the ISS.
  • For the first time, the German Space Operations Center has taken over the scientific support of the PK experiments.
  • COVID-19 protection measures – DLR scientists from Oberpfaffenhofen maintain contact with the PK-4 Control Centre in Toulouse and the ISS.
  • Unique insights using PK-4 – plasma crystals can form in microgravity. The plasma particles behave like atoms and can be observed individually with the naked eye.

OBERFAFFENHOFEN, Germany (DLR PR) — Under normal circumstances, the researchers would have gone to Toulouse, as only from there can they control the PK-4 plasma crystal laboratory, which has been on board the International Space Station (ISS) since 2015. However, the Coronavirus pandemic has made travelling from Oberpfaffenhofen to the CADMOS Control Centre in France impossible. The experiments under microgravity conditions, which had taken months of preparation, were at risk of being cancelled.

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China Completes Beidou Satellite Navigation System

Note: As of June 28, 2019. Adapted from Kazuhiro Kida and Shinichi Hashimoto, “China’s Version of GPS Now Has More Satellites than US Original,” Nikkei Asian Review, August 19, 2019.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China completed its Beidou satellite navigation system with a launch last week, fully standing up a rival to the American Global Positioning System (GPS), Europe’s Galileo constellation, and Russia’s GLONASS system and strengthening the nation as a space power.

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