Prototype Vest Could Help Protect Astronauts on Trips to Moon, Mars

Crystal Chamberlain, a technician at NASA’s Langley Research Center, works in a sewing lab to piece together a radiation protection vest prototype. (Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA has overcome many difficult engineering challenges when it comes to human spaceflight – one that remains is how to best protect astronauts from space radiation.

A team at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia is working on one potential solution – a next-generation wearable radiation protection garment to protect against solar particle events.

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CIMON-2 on Way to ISS

Cimon 2 during tests. (Credit: DLR)
  • Like its predecessor, the technology experiment, developed and built in Germany, is designed to interact with astronauts in the Columbus laboratory.
  • CIMON-2 has a better ‘sense of orientation’ and is more ’empathic’.
  • DLR, Airbus and IBM continue their partnership.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — A new Crew Interactive MObile companioN (CIMON) is on its way the International Space Station (ISS). On 5 December 2019 at 18:29 CET (12:29 local time) the US SpaceX CRS-19 mission lifted off from the spaceport at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Helping Heracles EL3 to Survive the Long, Cold, Dark Lunar Nights

Heracles lander and rover (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA has kicked off an activity with Prototec – a NORCE company – and its partners Airbus and Air Liquide to develop alternative technologies for surviving the lunar night

When the European Large Logistic Lander (EL3) lands on the Moon, some of its cargo might require to survive the lunar night that lasts up to two weeks on Earth.

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NSRC-2020 Call for Abstracts

The Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) is the leading conference for researchers and educators planning to use reusable rocket powered and balloon borne suborbital vehicles for research and education applications.

NSRC-2020 will take place 2-4 March 2020 in Broomfield, Colorado.

The 2020 meeting theme is the revolutionary capabilities that researchers and educators flying in space on these vehicles will bring to the conduct of Research and Education Missions (REM).

Abstracts for talks and posters on these topics, as well as all other topics relevant to NSRC, is now open. Register for the conference and submit your abstract at https://nsrc.swri.org. The abstract deadline is 5 pm Pacific Time on 10 Jan 2020.

China Conducts 2 Launches in 6 Hours From Same Spaceport

China launched two Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) rockets with a total of seven satellites aboard within six hours of each other from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on Saturday.

The first rocket placed the Jilin-1 Gaofen 02B remote sensing satellite into orbit. Plans call for an initial constellation of 60 Jilin satellites in order, with the number growing to 138 by 2030.

The second launch carried six satellites:

HEAD-2A and HEAD-2B — The first two satellites in the Skywalker Constellation, which is designed to provide environmental monitoring, emergency communications, and material supervision for ships and aircraft. The satellites belong to the HEAD Aerospace Technology Co. of Beijing.

Spacety-16 and Spacety-17 — The medium-resolution remote sensing satellites will provide agricultural, disaster, maritime and polar equipment monitoring services. They were developed by the Changsha Tianyi Space Science and Technology Research Institute Co. for Spacety Co.

Tianqi-4A and Tianqi-4B — The Internet of Things satellites will provide data transmission, emergency communications and material tracking. The spacecraft are operated by Guodian Gaoke.

Launches of the solid-fuel KZ-1A booster are managed by Expace, which is a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation. The rocket is used to launch small satellites.

Crew Dragon In-flight Abort Test Set for January

Crew Dragon abort static test (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Jan. 4, 2020, for a critical In-Flight Abort Test of the Crew Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, pending U.S. Air Force Eastern Range approval.

As part of the test, SpaceX will configure Crew Dragon to trigger a launch escape shortly after liftoff and demonstrate Crew Dragon’s capability to safely separate from the Falcon 9 rocket in the unlikely event of an in-flight emergency. The demonstration also will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying SpaceX’s crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

The demonstration of Crew Dragon’s launch escape system is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and is one of the final major tests for the company before NASA astronauts will fly aboard the spacecraft.

The In-Flight Abort Test follows a series of static fire engine tests of the spacecraft conducted Nov. 13 near SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

New Reentry CubeSat Reaches Orbit

Qarman CubeSat undergoing tests. (Credit: CIRA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s latest space mission has reached orbit. The Qarman CubeSat flew to space aboard SpaceX’s Dragon launched from Florida, USA, on Thursday 5 December, ahead of a planned rendezvous with the International Space Station on Sunday 8 December. From there, Qarman – seen here during plasma wind tunnel testing – will be deployed into space in late January 2020.

CubeSats are low-cost nanosatellites based around standard 10 cm units and typically end their spaceflights burning up in the atmosphere as their orbits gradually decay. But the three-unit Qarman (QubeSat for Aerothermodynamic Research and Measurements on Ablation) is designed with this fiery fate in mind.

Designed for ESA by Belgium’s Von Karman Institute, Qarman will use internal temperature, pressure and brightness sensors to gather precious data on the extreme conditions of reentry as its leading edges are enveloped in scorching plasma.

Qarman’s blunt-nosed front contains most of its sensors, protected by a cork-based heatshield. The CubeSat is expected to survive its reentry, although not its subsequent fall to Earth – making it imperative that its results make it back in the time in between, using the Iridium commercial satellite network.

Other ESA cargo launched for the International Space Station includes radiation-resistant aquatic organisms to study their secrets and learn how they could protect astronauts and people on Earth from harmful radiation.

A Closer Look at ESA’s Budget

Credit: ESA

ESA’s table showing subscriptions for the space agency’s new three-year, 14.4 billion euro budget lists countries alphabetically. While that is certainly diplomatic, the order makes the figures a bit difficult to analyze.

So, I did a little reordering of the table. The results are below.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission Explains Bennu’s Mysterious Particle Events

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on January 6 was created by combining two images taken by the NavCam 1 imager onboard NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft: a short exposure image (1.4 ms), which shows the asteroid clearly, and a long exposure image (5 sec), which shows the particles clearly. Other image processing techniques were also applied, such as cropping and adjusting the brightness and contrast of each layer. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Shortly after NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu, an unexpected discovery by the mission’s science team revealed that the asteroid could be active, or consistently discharging particles into space. The ongoing examination of Bennu – and its sample that will eventually be returned to Earth – could potentially shed light on why this intriguing phenomenon is occurring.

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Cast of The Expanse Visits Blue Origin

Video Caption: Witness the intersection of hard science and science fiction and how one inspires the other. The cast of The Expanse sits down with brilliant minds from Blue Origin to discuss life beyond our planet. » The Expanse returns 12/13.

Watch the current season with Prime:

http://bit.ly/TheExpansePrimeVideo » SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/PrimeVideoSubscribe

About The Expanse: The disappearance of rich-girl-turned-political-activist Julie Mao links the lives of Ceres detective Joe Miller (Thomas Jane), accidental ship captain James Holden (Steven Strait) and U.N. politician Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo). Amidst political tension between Earth, Mars and the Belt, they unravel the single greatest conspiracy of all time.

ULA Conducts Dress Rehearsal for Starliner Launch; Date Slips a Day

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is guided into position above a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 21, 2019. Starliner will be secured atop the rocket for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day.

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., Dec. 6, 2019 (ULA PR) — The launch of the Atlas V rocket carrying Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test (OFT) Starliner spacecraft is now targeted for Dec. 20.

We successfully conducted a wet dress rehearsal (WDR), a critical pre-launch milestone, on Friday, Dec. 6. We were unable to complete the milestone on Thursday, Dec. 5, as planned due to a weather-related launch delay of an International Space Station re-supply mission, which created a range resource conflict. This caused our targeted launch date to shift to the right by one day.

We continue to work closely with Boeing to ensure that the Starliner flies as soon as the spacecraft and launch vehicle are ready. 

Thales Alenia Space to Build Nilesat-301 Satellite

Nilesat-301 (Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

Cannes, December 4, 2019 (Thales Alenia Space PR) – Thales Alenia Space, a Joint Venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), announced today that it has signed a contract with the Egyptian operator Nilesat to build the Nilesat-301 geostationary communications satellite, winning the contract against an international field of competitors.

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China Making Aggressive Moves to Dominate Commercial Space Sector

China satellite launch

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine China’s growing commercial space industry. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China is using aggressive state-backed financing to capture increasing shares of the commercial launch and satellite markets, making it more difficult for American companies to compete and threatening to hollow out the U.S. industrial base.

China is also leverage “military-civil” fusion to create a burgeoning commercial space sector by providing substantial state support. Nearly 90 new space companies have been created since 2014, most of which enjoy the support of the Chinese military, defense industrial base, or state-owned research and development institutions.

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Rocket Lab Launches Satellites, Tests Next-Gen Reusable Booster

Electron booster blasts into space. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A Rocket Lab next-generation Electron rocket blasted off from New Zealand on Friday, placing seven small satellites into Earth orbit and conducting the first test of a new reusable first stage.

The Electron’s 10th launch, nicknamed “Running Out of Fingers,” included six PocketQube micro-satellites measuring a mere 5 cm built by Alba Orbital. A seventh satellite built by a Japanese company will release particles that will create an artificial meteor shower.

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Progress Resupply Ship Launched to ISS

A Soyuz rocket launches the Progress MS-13 cargo ship to the International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Roscosmos PR) — On December 6, 2019, at 09:34:11 UTC the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the Progress MS-13 cargo spacecraft launched from launchpad No. 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Antennas and solar batteries panels’ extension went routinely.

After the cargo vehicle separation from the third stage of the carrier rocket, the Chief Operating Control Group of the Russian segment of the International Space Station at the Mission Control Center took over the flight control.

Progress MS-13 spacecraft approach to the ISS and berthing to the Pirs docking module is planned to be performed automatically under control of the Chief Operating Control Group of the Russian segment of the ISS at the Mission Control Center and the Russian ISS crewmembers – Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka. The docking is scheduled for December 9, 2019, at 10:38 UTC. The broadcast will be available in the Live Broadcast section at Roscosmos website.

The spacecraft is to deliver 700 kg of fuel and gas, as well as 1,350 kg of various equipment and cargo including resource facilities of the onboard control and life support systems, equipment to conduct scientific and research experiments, sanitary and hygiene products and medical control means, 420 kilograms of water in the Rodnik system tanks and standard food rations.