Dragonfly Launch Moved to 2027

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

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Dragonfly is a NASA mission that delivers a rotorcraft to Saturn’s moon Titan to advance our search for the building blocks of life. While Dragonfly was originally scheduled to launch in 2026, NASA has requested the Dragonfly team pursue their alternative launch readiness date in 2027. No changes will be needed to the mission architecture to accommodate this new date, and launching at a later date will not affect Dragonfly’s science return or capabilities once at Titan. 

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How In­tense and Dan­ger­ous is Cos­mic Ra­di­a­tion on the Moon?

Chang’e-4 lu­nar lan­der im­aged by the Yu­tu-2 rover (Credit: CNSA/CLEP/NAOC)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The Chang’e-4 lunar lander touched down on the far side of the Moon on 3 January 2019, with a German instrument for measuring space radiation on board. Since then, the Lunar Lander Neutron and Dosimetry (LND) instrument has been measuring temporally resolved cosmic radiation for the first time.

Earlier devices could only record the entire ‘mission dose’. In its current issue, the scientific journal  Science Advances reports on the work of the international group of scientists involved with the LND, including researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). Their investigations have involved more precise radiation measurements on the Moon.

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Private Indian Startup Unveils Rocket Engine, Aims for Smallsat Market

Dhawan-1 cryogenic engine (Credit: Skyroot Aerospace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Thursday, a commercial Indian launch startup named Skyroot Aerospace unveiled its Dhawan-1 cryogenic engine to mark the 100th anniversary of Indian rocket pioneer Satish Dhawan.

The company said the engine is 100 percent 3D printed using additive manufacturing. It will be powered by liquified natural gas and liquid oxygen.

Satish Dhawan was an Indian aerospace engineer who was a pioneer experimental fluid dynamics research. He served as the third chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The nation’s spaceport is named after him.

Dhawan-1 will be used as the upper stage of Skyroot’s Vikram II booster. The company is developing three Vikram rockets to serve the small satellite launch market.

Vikrams will launch payloads ranging from 225 kg to 720 kg depending upon the rocket used and the orbit desired. Skyroot says the boosters can be assembled and launched within 24 to 72 hours with minimal infrastructure.

According to a story in the Economic Times, Skyroot was founded by three former ISRO employee who are looking to take advantage of India’s decision to allow private space companies to operate.

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SMC Awards Satellite Rapid Prototyping Contract to Northrop Grumman

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SMC PR) —The Space and Missile Systems Center awarded an Evolved Strategic SATCOM Space Rapid Prototyping contract to Northrop Grumman on Sept. 16.

The first in a series, SMC will award up to three separate contracts for this work to drive a competitive, rapid prototyping effort and mitigate the risk inherent in these early prototyping and demonstration activities. Subsequent contract awards are expected in the coming weeks.

Under this 5-year space segment rapid prototyping phase, each contractor will develop ground prototypes to demonstrate the most essential ESS payload elements to reduce risk for development and production of the ESS system.

The ESS program will fulfill the Department of Defense capability need for space-based protected strategic military satellite communications. The ESS program will ensure continued capacity, coverage, and protection for worldwide and Arctic DoD strategic, secure, anti-jam, survivable communications supporting ground, sea, and air assets.

ESS will augment, and eventually replace, the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system in support of strategic missions. SMC’s Space Development Corps, led by Col. Tim Sejba, manages the ESS program.

18 SPCS Now Predicts Debris-on-debris Collisions in Space, Enhancing Space Domain Awareness

An artist’s depiction of the Space Based Space Surveillance satellite tracking space debris. The 18th Space Control Squadron uses data collected from SBSS, and other sensors in the Space Surveillance Network, to track objects orbiting the earth, and provide Space Domain Awareness for space faring nations. (Credit: U.S. Space Command)

by Maj. Cody Chiles 
Combined Force Space Component Command

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Sept. 24, 2020 — For the first time, the Combined Force Space Component Command’s 18th Space Control Squadron began publicly sharing data for debris-on-debris conjunction predictions via www.Space-Track.org, Sept. 24.

Previously, the 18 SPCS only released debris-on-active satellite conjunction prediction data publically due to limited conjunction screening and reporting capacity.

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SpaceX Wins $109.4 Million Contract to Launch NASA Satellites on Falcon 9

Falcon 9 lifts off with the SAOCOM 1B satellite. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission, which includes four secondary payloads.

IMAP will help researchers better understand the boundary of the heliosphere, a magnetic barrier surrounding our solar system. This region is where the constant flow of particles from our Sun, called the solar wind, collides with winds from other stars. This collision limits the amount of harmful cosmic radiation entering the heliosphere.

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U.S. Defense Payloads to Fly on Reused SpaceX Boosters

Falcon 9 lifts off with the SAOCOM 1B satellite. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SMC PR) — The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center Launch Enterprise and Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) recently signed a contract modification to reuse a Falcon 9 first-stage booster – for the first time on a National Security Space Launch mission – starting with the fifth Global Positioning System (GPS)-III satellite, scheduled to launch next year.

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Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)

Teams are evaluating how to train for lunar surface operations during Artemis missions, in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at Johnson Space Center in Houston. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA engineers are laying the foundation for the moonwalks the first woman and next man will conduct when they land on the lunar South Pole in 2024 as part of the Artemis program. At the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, teams are testing the tools and developing training approaches for lunar surface operations.

As part of a test series occurring in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) at Johnson, astronauts in a demonstration version of the exploration spacesuit and engineers in “hard hat” dive equipment are simulating several different tasks crew could do on the surface of the Moon.

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No S—! ISS Astronauts to Boldly Go on New Toilet

Credit: NASA

“Today’s coffee is tomorrow’s coffee!”
— NASA Astronaut Jessica Meir

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — It’s the space-age old question: how do astronauts go to the bathroom in space? The most basic human biological processes becomes challenging off-planet due in part to the lack of gravity. NASA is launching a new space toilet, the Universal Waste Management System (UWMS), to the International Space Station on Northrop Grumman’s 14th contract resupply mission in September. Another UWMS unit will be installed in Orion for the Artemis II flight test that will send astronauts on a 10-day mission beyond the Moon and back.

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Testing Super Foods for Space and More on Blue Origin Suborbital Flight

The microgravity LilyPond growth chamber uses capillary action to provide a stable water surface on which duckweed (and potentially other veggies, like microgreens) can grow. LED panels provide an efficient light source, and a salad spinner-like sieve helps separate the water from the plants when ready to harvest. (Credits: Space Lab Technologies)

Duckweed: it’s what’s for dinner

by Nicole Quenelle
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

EDWARDS, Calif. — It’s no surprise to most of us that regularly eating fresh produce is a great way to support a healthy diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables benefit astronauts on the International Space Station, too – and soon the Moon and beyond. Scientists are investigating sustainable ways to grow highly nutritious foods in microgravity, to give space explorers a readily available supply of daily greens.

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Estée Lauder Works with NASA to Send Iconic Advanced Night Repair into Space

Credit: Estee Lauder

NEW YORK (Estee Lauder PR)– Estée Lauder announced today the brand’s iconic Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex will launch into space. As a beauty industry leader in science and innovation, Estée Lauder is the first-ever beauty brand to participate in NASA’s efforts to enable business opportunities on the International Space Station.

Advanced Night Repair serum is scheduled to launch aboard a Cygnus spacecraft atop an Antares rocket on Northrop Grumman’s 14th commercial resupply services mission for NASA on September 29th,2020 and will arrive at the International Space Station on October 3rd, 2020. Advanced Night Repair serum will be photographed for use on the brand’s social media platforms.

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Cosmic Catch for Canadarm2 as Cygnus Carries Canadian Cargo to the International Space Station

The U.S. Cygnus space freighter is pictured as the Canadarm2 robotic arm, guided by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir with fellow Flight Engineer Christina Koch as her back up, reaches out to grapple the 12th resupply ship from Northrop Grumman on November 4, 2019. (Credits: NASA)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (CSA PR) — On September 29, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo ship will blast off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, headed for the  International Space Station (ISS) – the orbiting science lab that has been continuously inhabited for nearly two decades.

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As Bridenstine Begs for Bucks at Home, Italy & Japan Move Forward on Artemis Cooperation

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the same week he pleaded with Senators to fully fund the Artemis lunar program, Jim Bridenstine signed a cooperation agreement with Italy and a key partner, Japan, moved forward with its part of the effort.

On Friday, Bridenstine “signed a joint statement of intent with Italian Undersecretary to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers Riccardo Fraccaro, representing the Italian government, articulating strong mutual interest between the two countries in pursuing Italian contributions to lunar exploration activities as part of NASA’s Artemis Program,” the agency announced in a press release.

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SIA: Act Now on Space Traffic Management, Sustainability

Distribution of space debris around Earth (Credit: ESA)

Satellite Industry Association says tens of thousands of satellites aren’t going to manage themselves

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 24, 2020 (SIA PR) – The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today announced the release of a number of recommendations addressing the issue of space traffic management, with the goal of supporting a long-term sustainable and safe space environment for commercial satellites and spacecraft. 

The recommendations were included in a SIA White Paper titled “The Future of Space and Space Traffic Coordination and Management (STCM)”.   The White Paper shares SIA and its members’ views and recommendations regarding the creation of a modern STCM regime, capable of supporting long term space sustainability and continued innovation and U.S. space leadership.

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