MOJAVE, Calif. (Masten Space Systems PR) — As you all know by now, Masten is landing on the Moon in 2023! Masten Mission 1 will be the first of many Masten missions to the lunar surface and beyond. And this first mission is kind of a big deal… it will help lay the foundation for future human missions, and it offers a lot of scientific value.
We’re landing at the lunar south pole near the Haworth Crater, which is adjacent to the Malapert massif where the change in elevation exceeds 8 km – an elevation very close to Mt. Everest. This diverse topography offers the potential to explore both near-surface and deep reservoirs to detect lunar ice and volatiles, such as methane, carbon dioxide, and ammonia.
Our lunar lander (configuration XL-1) will supply the ride for this important mission, carrying payloads for both NASA and commercial customers. So it’s about time we give XL-1 an official name and mission patch.
Written by Håvard Grip Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Chief Pilot NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
In the months since we flew for the first time, we have learned a great deal about operating a helicopter on Mars. We have explored Ingenuity’s strengths and limitations in detail, leveraging the former and working around the latter to operationalize it as a highly capable reconnaissance platform.
With the benefit of the knowledge acquired, conducting flights on Mars has in most ways become easier than it was at the outset. But in one important way it is actually getting more difficult every day: I’m talking about the atmospheric density, which was already extremely low and is now dropping further due to seasonal variations on Mars.
SAN FRANCISCO, September 24, 2021 (Orbit Fab PR) — Already the leading supplier of refueling ports for satellites, Orbit Fab announced that it will soon be launching the first propellant tanker to geostationary orbit. The company’s second tanker will establish flight heritage on all the elements of the company’s tanker technology, which has been designed for the harshest orbital regimes and for refueling the largest space assets. This announcement comes on the heels of the company’s successful launch of the world’s first Gas Stations in SpaceTM propellant depot last June into a low Earth orbit.
This was supposed to be the Summer of Virgin Galactic. The company would complete the three remaining suborbital flight tests of SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity, the second one with Richard Branson aboard. The company’s newest space tourism vehicle, SpaceShipIII, would begin its flight tests.
Once VSS Unity tests were complete, engineers would spend four months making a series of repairs and upgrades to the spacecraft and its WhiteKnightTwo mothership, VMS Eve. And then in early 2022, the company would use both spaceships to fly tourists on suborbital joy rides that were originally projected to begin 15 years earlier in 2007.
Sounds easy enough, right? It wasn’t. The Summer of Virgin Galactic went about as well as the Summer of George on Seinfeld. If best laid plans of mice, men and Costanzas often go awry, Virgin Galactic’s schedules are guaranteed to move significantly to the right. Years to the right.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Engineers with Exploration Ground Systems and contractor Jacobs successfully completed the Umbilical Release and Retract Test on Sept. 19 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in preparation for the Artemis I mission.
The umbilicals will provide power, communications, coolant, and fuel to the rocket and the Orion spacecraft while at the launch pad until they disconnect and retract at ignition and liftoff.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rebel Space Technologies PR) — Rebel Space Technologies has been awarded a NASA Phase II SBIR for their proposal Space Weaver: A Collaborative Smart Network for Space Communications. The proposal leverages Rebel Space’s proprietary Rebel Cognitive Communications & Control software (Rebel-C3) for autonomous network management, in addition to their partner Prewitt Ridge’s VerifAI.
In SpaceWeaver, the Rebel-C3 software creates a distributed cognitive space communications network for lunar operations that increases mission science data return and improves network resource efficiencies for NASA missions. The software uses artificial intelligence enhanced distributed sensing and optimized data routing to ensure efficient, resilient operations in an unpredictable space environment. The ultimate goal is to coordinate the transfer and relay of mission data across the lunar architecture based on data priority, content, schedule, and environmental conditions, a necessity for future lunar missions.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Chief Master Sgt. of the Space Force Roger A. Towberman took the stage at the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference here Sept. 21, to share his vision for the future of Guardian development.
Towberman focused on the five objectives outlined in the Space Force’s human capital management plan, termed the “Guardian Ideal,” released earlier in the day.
BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Roscosomos PR) — At the Baikonur Cosmodrome, tightness tests of the Prichal nodal module in the vacuum chamber of the assembly and testing building of site No. 254 have been completed.
In accordance with the work schedule, specialists of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation and the Yuzhny Space Center (a branch of the Center for Operation of Ground-Based Space Infrastructure Facilities) performed a cycle of pneumatic vacuum tests of the Prichal module, which lasted from September 21, 2021. The module is currently installed in its workplace and connected to ground test equipment to continue prelaunch preparation.
The Prichal universal nodal module designed and manufactured by RSC Energia named after S.P. Korolev is designed to expand the technical and operational capabilities of the Russian segment of the ISS. The launch of the Prichal into a near-earth orbit and its docking with the nadir node of the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module are planned for November 2021.
PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. (U.S. Space Command PR) – U.S. Space Command is focused on building the command to compete and win, as it heads into its third year as America’s 11th Combatant Command. A huge part of that focus is to ensure space warfighters from each service have the technical knowledge and tactical acumen to integrate into the full range of joint space capabilities.
Each service brings unique talents to the Joint Force, and most recently, the U.S. Navy announced the establishment of the Maritime Space Officer designator.
“These sailors will integrate into our operations to help deter, compete and win against our nation’s most formidable competitors in space,” said U.S. Army Gen. Jim Dickinson, USSPACECOM commander. “All joint partnerships across the Department of Defense are pertinent to continue projecting global power with space capabilities.”
TASS reports that Russia and Kazakhstan have agreed to construct a new launch complex for the Soyuz-5 and Soyuz-6 rockets at the latter’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. Kazakhstan will be responsible for ground infrastructure while Russia will develop the new launch vehicles.
The construction will take place at the Baiterek launch facility that previously was to be modernized for launching Zenit boosters. Zenit is a rocket largely built in Ukraine but had elements supplied in Russia. Cooperation on the Zenit program ended after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region and invaded the country.
Being developed by JSC Progress, the Soyuz-5 booster is designed to replace the Zenit-2 and Proton-M booster and serve as the base for a super heavy-lift launcher that will match the capabilities of the retired Energia rocket. Soyuz-5 will be capable of lifting satellites weighting 18 metric tons or crewed spacecraft weighing 15.5 metric tons to low Earth orbit.
There isn’t much public information available on the Soyuz-6 rocket. The new booster will apparently be a shortened version of the Soyuz-5 booster.
Satellite will launch directly to geostationary orbit, meaning broadband internet service will come online months faster for underserved areas of Alaska
SAN FRANCISCO (Astranis PR) — Astranis announced today that its first commercial communications satellite, set to provide service for Alaska from geostationary orbit, will now launch as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on a direct-inject mission set for Spring 2022. The mission profile will allow the spacecraft to arrive at its orbital slot within days of launch and removes the need for a multiple-month orbit raise from a highly-elliptical geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).
VANDERBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (ULA Mission Update) — Everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V launch carrying the Landsat 9 mission for NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. The mission is planned to lift off on Mon., Sept. 27 at 11:11 a.m. PDT from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
Live broadcast coverage of launch will begin at 10:30 a.m. PDT on Sept. 27 and will broadcast live on NASA TV. Live launch updates and webcast available at: www.ulalaunch.com
By Charles Pope Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFNS) —Chief of Space Operations, Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond used a list of “firsts” and achievements across the Space Force’s brief history Sept. 21 to illustrate how the nation’s newest military service is “purpose built” for success at a time when the nation “can no longer take space for granted.”
“Space is clearly a warfighting domain and we’re convinced that if deterrence were to fail, we’re going to have to fight and win the battle for space superiority,” Raymond told an audience of more than 2,000 during his keynote address at the Air Force Association Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. “Let me be clear; we don’t want to fight in space. We want to deter that from happening.”
TEL AVIV (Rakia Mission PR) — In early 2022, the Rakia Mission is scheduled to launch into space, and onboard will be Eytan Stibbe, Israel’s second man in space and the first to fly to the International Space Station (ISS).
WASHINGTON (U.S. Space Force PR) — The Chief of Space Operations announced the transfer of Army and Navy satellite communications billets, funding and mission responsibility to the U.S. Space Force.
Space Force Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond made the announcement at the Air Force Association meeting in Washington, yesterday. The transfers are scheduled to be effective Oct. 1, 2021, if the DOD budget is passed and signed.
“We’re one team with our sister services and over the last year-and-a-half we have worked with the Army and the Navy and the Air Force to determine which capabilities come over to the Space Force,” Raymond said. “The intent was to consolidate (and) increase our operational capability; increase our readiness and do so in a more efficient manner.”