NASA to Test Space Technologies on Suborbital Launch From Wallops

Sounding rocket launch. (Credit: NASA)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — Several space technologies will be put to the test with the launch of a suborbital rocket at 8 p.m., EDT Tuesday, October 22, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The launch window for the mission is 8 p.m. to midnight.  Backup launch days are Oct. 23 – 27. The Wallops NASA Visitor Center will open at 7 p.m. for launch viewing.  Coverage of the mission will begin at 7:45 p.m. on the Wallops Facebook site.  The launch may be visible in the Chesapeake Bay region.

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Luxembourg to Establish Space Resources Innovation Center

  • Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Economy Etienne Schneider and ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich Wörner commit to strengthening international collaboration in the field of space resources research and innovation, during a visit to the European Astronaut Centre, in Cologne.
  • Europe must be an active player and create opportunities to position itself as key partner in the next space resources related activities and missions.
  • European Space Agency and the Luxembourg Space Agency have, together, identified common objectives for research and development.

LUXEMBOURG (Luxembourg Space Agency PR) — Following the setup of SpaceResources.lu initiative in 2016 to promote and develop the research, economic and legal aspects of space resources, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA) established a working group to explore the opportunities for international cooperation in the field of space resources.

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Midland Councilman Blasts Continued Spending on Spaceport Without Launches

The city of Midland — its dreams of flight to suborbital spaceflight dashed by the bankruptcy of XCOR Aerospace — continues to spend money trying to attract tenants to its west Texas spaceport. The question is whether the city is merely throwing good money after bad?

Texas Scorecard reports:

At a recent Midland City Council meeting, Councilman Spencer Robnett blasted continued spending on the project, saying that, to date, more than $20 million in taxpayer funds have been spent. He asked fellow council members to take a critical look at the cost.

“I think that the longer we perpetuate the myth of Midland being a town of a spaceport … we will continue to waste taxpayer dollars on it,” Robnett stated. “The fact that we think we can turn the largest secure oil field in the world into a spaceport town and that we will waste tax dollars doing it … I just can’t get on board with that.”

Councilman J. Ross Lacy, who recently announced his candidacy for U.S. Congress, quickly responded to Robnett’s remarks, stating funds used for the spaceport are “not tax dollars.” Lacy has long been a strong proponent of the spaceport.

“These are City of Midland airport dollars,” Spencer responded. “They are Midland Development tax dollars—those are tax dollars.”

Continuing the unusual debate on whether the funds the governmental entity was about to appropriate were tax dollars, Lacy went further, saying, “No, these are not tax dollars; these are funds that are coming out of the airport funds that are only paid for by people that use the airport.”

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Japan to Develop Gateway Habitat, Resupply Vehicles

Gateway with Orion over the Moon (Credit: ESA/NASA/ATG Medialab)

The Ashahi Shimbun reports that Japan has formally signed on to NASA’s lunar Gateway project with specific elements to develop.

Japan’s space agency plans to take charge of development of a habitation module and an unmanned logistics vehicle for the Gateway cislunar space station as part of an international project….

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) hopes to showcase the country’s excellence in technologies with an eye toward having a Japanese astronaut included in the lunar mission.

JAXA plans to work with its European counterpart to develop the habitation module by drawing on technologies it cultivated during the development and operation of the International Space Station’s Kibo experiment module, including one for recycling air and water aboard a spacecraft.

It also plans to take charge of resupplying goods using the HTV-X, a spacecraft under development as a successor to the Kounotori (HTV) unmanned transfer vehicle, seven units of which have been launched successfully.

Space Florida Gets $90 Million Grant to Replace Bridge, Road Improvements

EXPLORATION PARK, Fla. (Space Florida PR) – Space Florida is moving forward on a $90 million infrastructure improvement grant recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The grant will support three interrelated projects, including replacing the aging SR 405 bridge over the Indian River Lagoon, widening Space Commerce Way, and revitalizing a 3.7-mile stretch of NASA Parkway West. The project is expected to take approximately five years to complete.

With the award in place, Space Florida and its partners from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center can now move forward with the project. The grant, which is part of DOT’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America INFRA) program, will support growing aerospace industry and launch activities at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The current bridge will be replaced with two new high-span bridges, and the widening of the roadways will facilitate launch traffic, simplify transport of oversized launch hardware, and improve access for visitors.

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JAXA, Ricoh Release 360-degree Spherical Pictures & Videos Captured on ISS

Spherical image shot in outer space converted to flat image. (Credit: Ricoh)

TOKYO, October 17, 2019 (Ricoh PR) – Ricoh Company, Ltd., (Tokyo, Japan) today announced that the 360-degree spherical camera jointly developed with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully captured 360-degree spherical pictures and videos in outer space. The pictures and videos were released today.

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Quintillion, ATLAS Space Operations Expand Strategic Data Infrastructure in Arctic

ANCHORAGE, AK, October 17, 2019 (Quintillion Networks RP) — Quintillion Networks and ATLAS Space Operations today announced plans for North America’s highest latitude ground station, to be located 250 miles inside of the Arctic Circle in Utqiagvik, Alaska.

Upon its completion in the first quarter of 2020, the new Quintillion-ATLAS 3.7 meter ground station will be put to use immediately by U.S. Government and commercial customers. By utilizing Quintillion’s existing fiber optic infrastructure, ATLAS adds this valuable and geographically diverse site to its growing global FREEDOM network to provide greater data access from space.

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Mynaric Wins €1.7 million Contract to deliver Satellite Constellation Laser Communication Terminals

  • Mynaric announces deal for the delivery of multiple space laser communication terminals worth EUR 1.7m
  • Contract confirms market demand for Mynaric’s cost-effective, serially produced laser communication inter-satellite product designed for mega-constellations

Munich, October 17, 2019 (Mynaric PR) – Mynaric (Frankfurt Stock Exchange: M0Y, ISIN: DE000A0JCY11) has announced today that it will deliver multiple laser communication flight terminals to an undisclosed customer in an initial deal valued at EUR 1.7 million ($1.9 million).

The company’s space products are scheduled to be launched on a product validation mission which will serve as a pathfinder to integrate and qualify Mynaric’s products with the customer’s satellites.

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Blue Canyon Technologies Receives $4.9 Million Satellite Contract from NASA

BOULDER, Colo., October 17, 2019 (BCT PR) — Small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) today announced it has been selected for a $4.9 million contract award from NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate to develop a groundbreaking technology that allows BCT’s spacecraft buses to perform autonomous navigation on-board, without any additional hardware.

The news came as part of NASA’s recent announcement of more than $40 million in contracts to 14 companies as part of its “Tipping Point” solicitation, an effort to develop technologies that support the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.

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Mars InSight’s ‘Mole’ Is Moving Again

DLR Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP³) on the surface of Mars. (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s InSight spacecraft has used its robotic arm to help its heat probe, known as “the mole,” dig nearly 2 centimeters (3/4 of an inch) over the past week. While modest, the movement is significant: Designed to dig as much as 16 feet (5 meters) underground to gauge the heat escaping from the planet’s interior, the mole has only managed to partially bury itself since it started hammering in February 2019.

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NASA’s Planetary Protection Review Addresses Changing Reality of Space Exploration

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used its panoramic camera to record this eastward horizon view on the 2,407th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (Oct. 31, 2010). (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA released a report Friday with recommendations from the Planetary Protection Independent Review Board (PPIRB) the agency established in response to a recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report and a recommendation from the NASA Advisory Council.

With NASA, international, and commercial entities planning bold missions to explore our solar system and return samples to Earth, the context for planetary protection is rapidly changing. NASA established the PPIRB to conduct a thorough review of the agency’s policies. 

Planetary protection establishes guidelines for missions to other solar system bodies so they are not harmfully contaminated for scientific purposes by Earth biology and Earth, in turn, is protected from harmful contamination from space. 

The board’s report assesses a rapidly changing environment where more samples from other solar system bodies will be returned to Earth, commercial and international entities are discussing new kinds of solar system missions, and NASA’s Artemis program is planning human missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

The report discusses 34 findings, and 43 recommendations from the PPIRB, which was chaired by planetary scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute to address future NASA missions and proposed missions by other nations and the private sector that include Mars sample return, robotic missions to other bodies, eventual human missions to Mars, and the exploration of ocean worlds in the outer solar system. 

“The landscape for planetary protection is moving very fast. It’s exciting now that for the first time, many different players are able to contemplate missions of both commercial and scientific interest to bodies in our solar system,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “We want to be prepared in this new environment with thoughtful and practical policies that enable scientific discoveries and preserve the integrity of our planet and the places we’re visiting.”

The PPIRB, comprised of a high-level team of 12 experts and stakeholders from science, engineering and industry, examined how to update planetary protection policies and procedures in light of current capabilities. Such guidelines have periodically been updated and inform exploration by spacefaring nations that have signed the Outer Space Treaty since the 1960s.

“Planetary science and planetary protection techniques have both changed rapidly in recent years, and both will likely continue to evolve rapidly,” Stern said. “Planetary protection guidelines and practices need to be updated to reflect our new knowledge and new technologies, and the emergence of new entities planning missions across the solar system. There is global interest in this topic, and we also need to address how new players, for example in the commercial sector, can be integrated into planetary protection.”

NASA plans to begin a dialogue about the PPIRB report’s recommendations with stakeholders, and international and commercial partners to help build a new chapter for conducting planetary missions, and planetary protection policies and procedures. 

For more information about Planetary Protection, visit:

https://sma.nasa.gov/sma-disciplines/planetary-protection

To read the full report of the Planetary Protection Independent Review Board, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/reports

Moon Village Association, Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation Announce Partnership

Vienna, Austria – (October 18, 2019) – The Moon Village Association (MVA) and Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation (CSEO) are pleased to announce that they have formed a strategic partnership and signed an MoU. With this MoU, the two entities aspire to strengthen their bond and their cooperation in the space sector.

This agreement between the MVA and CSEO will lead to the enhancement and progress of their common goals regarding the development of the Moon Village and promote the field of space exploration as well as developing numerous space initiatives.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne and Firefly Aerospace to Provide Flexible Access to Space

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 18, 2019 (Aerojet Rocketdyne/Firefly Aerospace PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne and Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly) are pleased to announce a cooperative agreement that combines the capabilities of both companies to provide flexible, sustainable and highly competitive space access solutions.

Aerojet Rocketdyne and Firefly will serve the growing government and commercial market by providing dedicated small and medium launch capabilities to low Earth orbit (LEO), geosynchronous orbit (GEO) and the Moon. This collaboration will leverage Firefly’s new family of launch vehicles and in-space services with Aerojet Rocketdyne’s experience in propulsion development, additive manufacturing and mission assurance for commercial, national security and exploration missions.

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Trump Calls Astronauts During First All-Female Spacewalk

President Donald Trump and other administration officials talk to NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir during the first all-woman spacewalk. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — President Donald Trump, second from left, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, left, Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, right, speaks with NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir during the first all-woman spacewalk on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019, from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.

The first all-woman spacewalk in history began at 7:38 a.m. EDT with Koch and Meir venturing outside the International Space Station to replace a failed battery charge-discharge unit. This is the fourth spacewalk for Koch and Meir’s first.

Friday’s All-Woman Spacewalk: The Basics

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch are inside the Quest airlock preparing the U.S. spacesuits and tools they will use on their first spacewalk together. (Credit: NASA)

Update: The astronauts have completed their 7h 17m spacewalk and have reentered the space station.

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Friday’s all-woman spacewalk is generating public interest we normally don’t get for a spacewalk. Here are the basics on the spacewalk itself, how to watch and how to participate in the conversation.

Why is this spacewalk significant?

Although it’s the 221st spacewalk performed in support of space station assembly, it’s the first to be conducted entirely by women, NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (at left above) and Christina Koch (at right above). It’s the first spacewalk for Meir; she’ll become the 15th woman overall and 14th U.S. woman to spacewalk.

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