Apollo Fusion Raises $10 million to Ramp Production of Satellite Thrusters

ACE thruster firing (Credit: Apollo Fusion)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Apollo Fusion PR) — Satellite propulsion company Apollo Fusion recently closed their Series B round of $10 million from Reid Hoffman from Greylock Partners. Reid Hoffman, also the co-Founder of LinkedIn, has joined Apollo Fusion’s Board of Directors.

Apollo’s mission is to help “enable the second space race” with a new satellite propulsion system that delivers 3 times more total impulse per kg (or per volume) than existing propulsion systems on the market.

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Space Station Shrinks Fluorescence Microscopy Tool

FLUMIAS team members install the 3D fluorescence microscope that will allow live-cell imaging in microgravity into Payload Card-8 of the TangoLab in preparation for launch aboard the SpaceX Dragon last month. (Credit: DLR)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Honey, I shrunk the microscope! A miniaturized fluorescence microscope makes it possible to observe changes in living cells in microgravity. Future observations of astronauts’ cells could tell scientists important information about how the body adapts to space.

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NASA Names Six New Flight Directors to Lead Mission Control

The 2018 Class of NASA Flight Directors for the Mission Control Center (L-R): Marcos Flores, Allison Bolinger, Adi Boulos, Rebecca Wingfield, Pooja Jesrani, and Paul Konyha. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected six women and men to join the elite corps of flight directors who will lead mission control for a variety of new operations at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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ESA, EIB Cooperate on Increasing Investments in European Space Sector

PARIS — 10 July 2018 (ESA PR) — Today Ambroise Fayolle, Vice President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), welcomed Jan Wörner, Director General of ESA, to sign a Joint Statement on behalf of the two organisations.

The Joint Statement puts forth the intention of the two organisations to cooperate on supporting increased investment in the European space sector, thus helping create a level playing field for European companies to grow and become globally competitive. It also supports setting the foundations for Europe’s engagement in Space 4.0 and new space.

“I am very pleased to enhance a fruitful collaboration with ESA, raising awareness for investors, while improving access to finance for promoters in the space sector,” said the EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle.

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Rocket Lab to Expand Launch Capability with US Launch Site

Electron launch (Credit: Rocket Lab)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — 10 July 2018 (Rocket Lab PR) — US orbital launch provider Rocket Lab has today confirmed plans to expand its launch capability by developing a US launch site, with four US space ports shortlisted to launch the Electron rocket.

Final selection is underway with Cape Canaveral, Wallops Flight Facility, Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base. A decision on the confirmed site, to be named Launch Complex 2, is expected to be made in August 2018.

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Battle Brews Over Filling NASA Deputy Administrator Spot

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Quartz reports there’s a battle brewing over who will be NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s deputy. The position of deputy administrator must be nominated by the president and approved by the Senate.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine is a former lawmaker, and he says he wants a former astronaut, Dr. Janet Kavandi, as his deputy. But Donald Trump, who makes the final decision, is leaning toward a man with no experience in space technology.

Five sources with knowledge of the deliberations tell Quartz that the White House is seriously considering James Morhard, a veteran senate aide…

Kavandi, 58, joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 1994. She had previously been an engineer at Boeing, and earned a P.h.D in analytical chemistry from the University of Washington in Seattle. She spent 33 days in space as an astronaut on three different space shuttle missions, then became the lead astronaut supervising work on the International Space Station and the deputy head of the astronaut office. In 2016, she became the director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center, which includes a huge vacuum chamber where SpaceX’s crew vehicle, the Dragon space capsule, is currently undergoing tests.

In his current job, Morhard, 61, is responsible for technology and administration in the offices of 100 senators and 88 committees and subcommittees. Starting off as an accountant at the Pentagon, he began his career as a legislative staffer in 1983, earning an MBA and a law degree along the way.

He rose to become the powerful chief of staff of the Appropriations Committee under the late senator Ted Stevens, and forged close ties with Republican senators. Morhard was a passenger, along with former NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe, in a 2010 plane crash that killed Stevens and four others.

OSIRIS-REx Successfully Completes Second Deep Space Maneuver

This is an artist’s concept of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft preparing to take a sample from asteroid Bennu. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/Chris Meaney)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — New tracking data confirms that NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully completed its second Deep Space Maneuver (DSM-2) on June 28. The thruster burn put the spacecraft on course for a series of asteroid approach maneuvers to be executed this fall that will culminate with the spacecraft’s scheduled arrival at asteroid Bennu on Dec. 3.

The DSM-2 burn, which employed the spacecraft’s Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM) thruster set, resulted in a 37 miles per hour (16.7 meters per second) change in the vehicle’s velocity and consumed 28.2 pounds (12.8 kilograms) of fuel.

Tracking data from the Deep Space Network provided preliminary confirmation of the burn’s execution, and the subsequent downlink of telemetry from the spacecraft shows that all subsystems performed as expected.

DSM-2 was OSIRIS-REx’s last deep space maneuver of its outbound cruise to Bennu. The next engine burn, Asteroid Approach Maneuver 1 (AAM-1), is scheduled for early October. AAM-1 is a major braking maneuver designed to slow the spacecraft’s speed from approximately 1,130 to 320 miles per hour (506.2 to 144.4 meters per second) relative to Bennu and is the first of four asteroid approach maneuvers scheduled for this fall.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering and the safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, Tucson, is the principal investigator, and the University of Arizona also leads the science team and the mission’s observation planning and processing. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the spacecraft and is providing spacecraft flight operations. Goddard and KinetX Aerospace are responsible for navigating the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the agency’s New Frontiers Program for its Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Listen: Eerie Sound of Electromagnetic Energy Moving Between Saturn & Enceladus

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — New research from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft’s up-close Grand Finale orbits shows a surprisingly powerful and dynamic interaction of plasma waves moving from Saturn to its rings and its moon Enceladus. The observations show for the first time that the waves travel on magnetic field lines connecting Saturn directly to Enceladus. The field lines are like an electrical circuit between the two bodies, with energy flowing back and forth.

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SpaceIL Announces Plan to Launch Lunar Lander in December

Lunar lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

SpaceIL, a former team in the defunct-but-resurrected-without-a-sponsor-or-any-prize-money Google Lunar X Prize, has announced plans to launch a landing vehicle to the moon in December with a landing date of Feb. 13, 2019.

The Times of Israel reports the team is working with state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and that the Israeli government will be paying for 10 percent of the mission cost.

SpaceIL plans to launch the spacecraft as a secondary payload aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster. After it lands, the 600-kg (1,323 lb.) vehicle will unfurl an Israeli flag, photograph its surroundings and measure the moon’s magnetic field. The surface mission will be completed in two days.

The lander will not be carrying a rover capable of traveling 500 meters across the surface. This was one of the requirements of the decade-long Google Lunar X Prize, which ended in March without no one claiming the $10 million first prize.

Video of Generation Orbit Engine Hot Fire

Video Caption: Hot fire testing of the GO1 Engineering Development Unit at Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, FL completed on Wednesday 20 June 2018. GO1 to be an affordable and flexible hypersonic testbed to flight test a wide range of hypersonic vehicle technologies.

Building up a series of cold flows and engine development tests, this hot fire test demonstrated integration of the engine with flight like propellant tanks, valves, pressurization system, and flight controls. Further, the test demonstrated the throttling capabilities of the system necessary to meet the thrust levels for Mach 6 cruise at 80,000 to 90,000 ft. This feature is a key enabler of GO1’s next-generation hypersonic flight testing capabilities for fundamental research and technology maturation. This is GO’s first test campaign to include Ursa Major Technologies’ “Hadley” liquid rocket engine. The 5,000 lbf-class oxygen-rich staged combustion engine performed as expected through the tests.

GO1 is a single-stage liquid rocket, launched from a Gulfstream III carrier aircraft, primarily designed for hypersonic flight testing. The rocket vehicle propulsion system utilizes liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants. The system is designed to provide affordable and regular access to high dynamic pressure flight conditions between Mach 5 and Mach 8 to a wide range of payloads for fundamental research, technology development, and risk reduction. The first flight of GO1 is planned for late 2019.

Airbus Wins Two ESA Studies for Mars Sample Return Mission

Mars in opposition. [(Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (ASU), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute) ]

Sample Fetch Rover to retrieve cached samples on Mars
Earth Return Orbiter to capture the samples and return them to Earth

STEVENAGE/TOULOUSE (Airbus PR) – Airbus has won two studies from the European Space Agency (ESA) to design a Sample Fetch Rover and an Earth Return Orbiter. These two elements will be critical parts of a mission to return samples of the planet Mars to Earth before the end of the next decade. NASA and ESA signed a letter of intent in April 2018 to pursue a Mars Sample Return mission.

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Largest Ever Solid Rocket Motor Set for First Hot Fire

P120C awaits first hot firing. (Credit: ESA)

KOUROU, French Guiana – 9 July 2018 (ESA PR) — This week, the largest solid rocket motor ever built in one piece will be test fired at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana for the first time.

This important milestone validates the booster for use on Vega-C next year and on Ariane 6 from 2020.

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This Week on The Space Show


This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. SPECIAL TIME: Monday, July 9, 2018; 7-8:30 PM PDT; 9-10:30 PM CDT; 10-11:30 PM EDT:We welcome DR. STEVEN ABOOD of FIU regarding his work on sex on Mars and reproduction. See his paper on our blog.

2. Tuesday, July 10, 2018: 7-8:30 PM PDT; 9-10:30 PM CDT; 10-11:30 PM EDT: We welcome back DR. DOUG PLATA for news and updates.

3. Wednesday, July 11, 2018: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details. Hotel Mars is pre-recorded by John Batchelor. It is archived on The Space Show site after John posts it on his website.

4. Friday, July 13, 2018; 9:30 AM-11 AM PDT, (12:30 -2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM-1 PM CDT): We welcome back LAURA MONTGOMERY, Atty. to discuss new space property rights ideas and more.

5. Sunday, July 15, 2018: 12-1:30 PM PDT; 2-3:30 PM CDT; 3-4:30 PM EDT. We welcome DR. JULIAN NOTT from UCSB regarding Titan.

Mid-Year Global Launch Report: China & USA Continue to Battle for Lead

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 mission lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The world’s launch providers were extremely busy in the first half of 2018, with China and the United States battling for the lead.

There with 55 orbital launches through the end of June, which amounted to a launch every 3.29 days or 79 hours. The total is more than half the 90 launches attempted in 2017. With approximately 42 missions scheduled for the last six months of the year, the total could reach 97. (more…)

Webb Space Telescope Problems: Excessive Voltage, Wrong Solvent & Loose Nuts

Artist’s impression of James Webb Space Telescope. (Credit: NASA)

NASA established the Independent Review Board (IRB) in April to evaluate the space agency’s $8 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The report, released last month, revealed a number of eye opening details about problems that NASA and the prime contractor, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (NGAS), have been experiencing in building the telescope and managing the program. Below are some key excerpts.

Independent Review Board Report
NASA James Webb Space Telescope

Full Report

Selected Excerpts

There have been several JWST Project problems due to human-induced errors that had substantial cost and schedule impact. In one case, an improper solvent was used to clean propulsion system valves that had been stored. The error was a failure to check with the valve vendor to ensure the solvent to be used was recommended and would not damage the valves. The valves had to be removed from the spacecraft, repaired or replaced, and reinstalled.

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