Dragon Returns to Earth With Cargo, Experiments

Dragon spacecraft in orbit. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, Sept. 17, west of Baja California, with more than 3,800 pounds of NASA cargo, research experiments and technology demonstration samples from the International Space Station.

The Dragon spacecraft will be taken by ship to Long Beach, California, where some cargo will be removed immediately for return to NASA. Dragon then will be prepared for a return trip to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for final processing.

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Xplicit Computing Debuts Advanced CAE Software On-Demand in the Cloud

X2 Firebird integrates systems, geometry, physics, and graphics into a modern platform to improve the engineering design and optimization process and user experience. (Credit; Xplicit Computing)

SAN FRANCISCO (Xplicit Computing PR) – Xplicit Computing, Inc. and Rescale, Inc. are excited to announce a partnership to offer X2 Firebird on Rescale’s ScaleX platform. X2 Firebird will be deployed as the first on-demand, cloud-only numerical simulation software for scientists and engineers on Rescale. X2 Firebird leverages the latest in systems programming and parallel computing, enabling real-time team collaboration on complex technical projects. This new heterogeneous computing platform delivers immense double-precision GPU speed-up, yielding significant value improvement over CPU-based solutions (starting with fluid dynamics and structural statics).

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Video: The Continuing Adventures of Japan’s Adorkable Space Station Drone

Video Caption: JAXA has disclosed “Int-Ball Letter” Vol. 5 in which the latest video of the Kibo’s internal drone on the International Space Station (ISS) is presented.

This time, we will introduce how Int-Ball has grown as a buddy of ISS crew members. After its launch in June 2017, Int-Ball underwent the initial checkout on the ISS by NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson and Astronaut Jack Fischer.

They returned to Earth on September 3, 2017 (JST). Let’s get a glimpse of the 3-month challenge and interaction that Int-Ball and they had on the ISS.

See here for further information on Int-Ball and the first disclosures of images: http://iss.jaxa.jp/en/kiboexp/news/17…

See here for further information on the Miniaturized Attitude Control Sensors and Actuators in an All-in-one Module installed in the Int-Ball:

https://youtu.be/58AjaW00_TI

http://www.kenkai.jaxa.jp/eng/researc…

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NASA Tests Autopilot Sensors During Simulations

A model of a satellite aft end on a robot for simulated, controlled rendezvous at the Space Operations Simulation Center. (Credit: NASA)

DENVER (NASA PR) — Inside a large, black-walled facility outside Denver, NASA’s Satellite Servicing Projects Division (SSPD) team successfully completed the latest testing of three rendezvous and proximity operations sensors used for satellite servicing applicatons and beyond. These sensors are needed for autonomous rendezvous of spacecraft, which is a vital technology for robotically servicing a satellite.

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Orion Parachutes Measure Up in High Pressure Test

Orion parachute test at Yuma Proving Ground. (Credit: NASA/James Blair)

YUMA, Ariz. (NASA PR) — Orion’s three main orange and white parachutes help a representative model of the spacecraft descend through sky above Arizona, where NASA engineers tested the parachute system on Sept. 13, 2017, at the U.S. Army Proving Ground in Yuma. NASA is qualifying Orion’s parachutes for missions with astronauts.

During this test, engineers replicated a situation in which Orion must abort off the Space Launch System rocket and bypass part of its normal parachute deployment sequence that typically helps the spacecraft slow down during its descent to Earth after deep space missions. The capsule was dropped out of a C-17 aircraft at more than 4.7 miles in altitude and allowed to free fall for 20 seconds, longer than ever before, to produce high aerodynamic pressure before only its pilot and main parachutes were deployed, testing whether they could perform as expected under extreme loads. Orion’s full parachute system includes 11 total parachutes — three forward bay cover parachutes and two drogue parachutes, along with three pilot parachutes that help pull out the spacecraft’s three mains.

ESA Signs First Ariane 6 Contract for Galileo Launches

Ariane 6 variants (Credit: ESA–David Ducros,)

PARIS, 15 September 2017 (ESA PR) — Four of the latest set of Galileo navigation satellites will be launched on Ariane 6 rockets – ESA’s first contract to use Europe’s new vehicle.

The launches are scheduled between the end of 2020 and mid-2021, using two Ariane 62 rockets – the configuration of Europe’s next-generation launch vehicle that is best suited to haul the two 750 kg navigation satellites into their orbits at 23 222 km altitude.

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Spaceflight Industries Forges Strategic Partnership to Fully Fund BlackSky Constellation

Paris, September 15, 2017 – The Space Alliance, formed by Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67%, Leonardo 33%) and Telespazio (Leonardo 67%, Thales 33%), today signed a partnership with the U.S.-based company Spaceflight Industries which includes the following elements:

  • A minority investment in Spaceflight Industries, which through its BlackSky business, has developed a geospatial platform and plans to build and operate a constellation of 60 small high-resolution observation satellites featuring very short revisit times;
  • The creation of an industrial Joint Venture in the United States between Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries specialized in the production of small satellites;
  • The implementation of a Joint Cooperation and Marketing Agreement between Telespazio and BlackSky enhancing their respective product and analytics portfolios on the market.

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft Ends Its Historic Exploration of Saturn

Saturn’s active, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus sinks behind the giant planet in a farewell portrait from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A thrilling epoch in the exploration of our solar system came to a close today, as NASA’s Cassini spacecraft made a fateful plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn, ending its 13-year tour of the ringed planet.

“This is the final chapter of an amazing mission, but it’s also a new beginning,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Cassini’s discovery of ocean worlds at Titan and Enceladus changed everything, shaking our views to the core about surprising places to search for potential life beyond Earth.”

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NASA’s Robotic ‘Sniffer’ Confirms Space Station Leak, Repair

The Robotic External Leak Locator on the end of the Dextre robot in February 2017. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — In recent operations on the International Space Station, robotic operators were twice able to test and confirm the ability of the Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) to “smell” in space.

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NASA Awards Research, Engineering, Mission Integration Services Contract

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 16 companies to provide a diverse range of competitive task-order contracts for serving the research and engineering products and services needs of the International Space Station.

Research, Engineering, and Mission Integration Services (REMIS) is a multi-award contract with indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed price and cost-plus-fixed-fee line item numbers. The contract begins Sept. 6 with a five-year base period, followed by a two-year option that may be exercised at NASA’s discretion. The maximum potential value of the contract, including the option, is $500 million.

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How to Watch Cassini’s Plunge into Saturn

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is on final approach to Saturn, following confirmation by mission navigators that it is on course to dive into the planet’s atmosphere on Friday, Sept. 15.

Live mission commentary and video from JPL Mission Control will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website from 7 to 8:30 a.m. EDT (4 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. PDT) on Sept. 15. A post-mission news briefing from JPL is currently scheduled for 9:30 a.m. EDT (6:30 a.m. PDT), also on NASA TV.

A new NASA e-book, The Saturn System Through the Eyes of Cassini, showcasing compelling images and key science discoveries from the mission, is available for free download in multiple formats at:

https://www.nasa.gov/ebooks

An online toolkit of information and resources about Cassini’s Grand Finale and final plunge into Saturn is available at:

https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/grandfinale

Follow the Cassini spacecraft’s plunge on social media using #GrandFinale, or visit:

https://twitter.com/CassiniSaturn

https://www.facebook.com/NASACassini

Cassini Ends 13-Year Mission at Saturn on Friday Morning

Milestones in Cassini’s final dive toward Saturn. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is on final approach to Saturn, following confirmation by mission navigators that it is on course to dive into the planet’s atmosphere on Friday, Sept. 15.

Cassini is ending its 13-year tour of the Saturn system with an intentional plunge into the planet to ensure Saturn’s moons – in particular Enceladus, with its subsurface ocean and signs of hydrothermal activity – remain pristine for future exploration. The spacecraft’s fateful dive is the final beat in the mission’s Grand Finale, 22 weekly dives, which began in late April, through the gap between Saturn and its rings. No spacecraft has ever ventured so close to the planet before.

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USC Research Provides Evidence of Ground Ice on Asteroids

Large, smooth areas on exoplanet Vesta correlated with higher concentrations of hydrogen. (Credit: Elizabeth Palmer, Essam Heggy)

LOS ANGELES (USC PR) — Research at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering has revealed new evidence for the occurrence of ground ice on the protoplanet Vesta.

The work, under the sponsorship of NASA’s Planetary Geology and Geophysics program, is part of ongoing efforts at USC Viterbi to improve water detectability techniques in terrestrial and planetary subsurfaces using radar and microwave imaging techniques.

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