Rocket Lab to Resume Electron Launches on June 11

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab has announced that it will conduct its 12th Electron launch with five satellites aboard from New Zealand on June 11 between 04:43 – 06:32 UTC (12:43 – 02:32 a.m. EDT).

The launch, titled Don’t Stop Me Now, will be the first by the company since late January. Rocket Lab suspended launch operations due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions placed on activities by the New Zealand government. The launch was delayed from March.

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SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 Weather Forecast Improves

Credit: 45th Weather Squadron

The probability of violating weather constraints has dropped from 60 percent to 50 percent for Saturday. The probability of a weather violation for a Sunday launch has dropped from 60 percent to 40 percent.

NASA Adds Airbus to Commercial Satellite Data Program

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has decided to add Airbus Defence and Space GEO Inc. to its growing list of companies from which the space agency will purchase commercial optical and radar satellite imagery.

NASA published a public notice earlier this month that it plans to acquire Airbus imagery as part of its Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition Program (CSDAP). The commercial imagery complements data collected by NASA’s satellites.

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Lunar Gateway’s Power & Propulsion Element Faces Cost Increases

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)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The first element of NASA’s lunar Gateway station will cost more than the original $375 million firm-fixed contract due to the way the space agency awarded the project to Maxar Technologies, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) also might not be able to achieve its goal of demonstrating an advanced Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) system in lunar orbit due to delays in the development of that technology, GAO found.

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NASA Updates Coverage for Crew Dragon Launch on Saturday

NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley, left, and Robert Behnken, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, are seen in the Tesla taking them to the launch pad for a dress rehearsal of their upcoming flight. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide live coverage of prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station.

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 30, for the launch of the first commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft carrying astronauts to the space station. The first launch attempt, on May 27, was scrubbed due to unfavorable weather conditions.

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UK Commits New Funding to Combat Space Debris

New government funding for innovative solutions to tackle the growing problem of potentially hazardous space debris, has been announced today.

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — There are an estimated 900,000 pieces of space debris larger than 1 cm orbiting the Earth, with only a small proportion of them tracked.

The UK Space Agency is providing up to £1 million for organisations to come up with smart solutions to this problem by using cost effective ways to monitor objects in low Earth Orbit, or applying artificial intelligence to make better use of existing orbital data.

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OSIRIS-REx Performs Closest Flyover of Sample Site Osprey

OSIRIS-REx flyover of Osprey collection site on asteroid Bennu. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md., May 27, 2020 (NASA PR) — NASA’s first asteroid-sampling spacecraft has had another close encounter with asteroid Bennu. Yesterday, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft executed its lowest pass yet over sample site Osprey, taking observations from an altitude of 820 feet (250 m). Osprey, OSIRIS-REx’s backup sample collection site, is located within a crater just north of Bennu’s equator.

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New ESA Partnership Project to Boost European Competitiveness

Artist’s impression of OneSat telecommunications satellite. (Credit: Airbus)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A fully reconfigurable, software-defined, standardized satellite for the commercial telecommunications market is under development, as an ESA Partnership Project. 

ESA has signed a contract with satellite manufacturer Airbus to develop and qualify OneSat, which will operate in a geostationary orbit.

The contract was negotiated under teleworking and remote meeting conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic. The timely conclusion of the negotiations demonstrates the strong commitment of all parties and the agility of the processes used to manage ESA Partnership Projects.

The Novacom 1 Partnership Project to build OneSat will be jointly managed by ESA and the French Space Agency, CNES.

OneSat is part of ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES). Like previous Neosat Partnership Projects, it is expected to generate an exceptional return on investment to European industry and ESA Member States.

Third European Service Module for Mission to Land Astronauts on the Moon

European Service Module 2 assembly (Credit: Airbus)

PARIS (ESA PR) — It’s official: when astronauts land on the Moon in 2024 they will get there with help from the European Service Module. The European Space Agency signed a contract with Airbus to build the third European Service Module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft that will ferry the next astronauts to land on the Moon.

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SpaceX Raises Addition $346 Million

SpaceX has raised an additional $346,224,340 as part of a new funding round, according to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Elon Musk’s company said $3,775,200 remained to be sold in this round.

SpaceX is developing its Starship and Super Heavy system as well as deploying the Starlink broadband satellite constellation.

NASA’s PACE Mission Moves Forward Despite Efforts to Kill it

PACE satellite (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) satellite has continued to move forward toward an early 2024 launch despite attempts by Trump Administration, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds Clues to Chilly Ancient Mars Buried in Rocks

Filled with briny lakes, the Quisquiro salt flat in South America’s Altiplano represents the kind of landscape that scientists think may have existed in Gale Crater on Mars. (Credits: Maksym Bocharov)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — By studying the chemical elements on Mars today — including carbon and oxygen — scientists can work backwards to piece together the history of a planet that once had the conditions necessary to support life.

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US Space Force to Train Space Professionals in Space Warfighting Disciplines

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (U.S. Space Force PR) — Without highly trained space professionals, the U.S. Space Force cannot effectively utilize space systems to increase joint force lethality, cannot ensure the safety of the American public, nor can it defend against near-peer adversaries.

“Our modern lives depend on our space capabilities, and potential adversaries are actively attempting to exploit the benefits space provides us,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Sebeck, 319th Combat Training Squadron commander. “Every day our space warfighters purposefully prepare to negate potential adversaries’ attempts to claim space superiority over us.” 

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Bankrupt OneWeb Seeks to Increase Satellite Constellation Up to 48,000 Satellites

LONDON, UK, May 27, 2020 (OneWeb PR) – OneWeb, the global communications company with a mission to connect governments, businesses and people everywhere, submitted a modification request to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to increase the number of satellites in its constellation up to 48,000 satellites. This larger OneWeb constellation will allow for greater flexibility to meet soaring global connectivity demands.

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