ATLAS Space Operations Awarded Project with Space and Missile Systems Center and Defense Innovation

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich., (Atlas Space Operations PR)–ATLAS Space Operations, Inc., a leading innovator in ground communications for the space industry, today announced an agreement to develop its LINKS platform with the Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). The competitively awarded rapid prototyping program will run for 12 months, and will deliver a complete satellite communications platform tailored to the Air Force’s Multi-Band Multi-Mission requirements, as outlined by the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Range and Network Systems Division.

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NASA Demos CubeSat Laser Communications Capability

Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration (OCSD) Spacecraft Configuration. OCSD differs from other space-based laser communication systems because the laser is hard-mounted to the spacecraft body, and the orientation of the CubeSat controls the direction of the beam. This makes the laser system more compact than anything previously flown in space. (Credit: NASA/Ames)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (NASA PR) — Two NASA CubeSats teamed up on an impromptu optical, or laser, communications pointing experiment. The laser beam is seen as a brief flash of light close to the center of the focal plane, to the left of Earth’s horizon.

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NIAC Award: Low-Cost SmallSats to Explore to Our Solar System’s Boundaries

Small satellites for exploring the Solar System’s boundaries. (Credit: Robert Staehle)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program
Phase I Award: Up to $125,000 for 9 Months

Low-Cost SmallSats to Explore to Our Solar System’s Boundaries
Robert Staehle
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Overview: New Horizons, Voyager 1 & 2, and Pioneer 10 & 11 are the only spacecraft to venture beyond Saturn’s orbit. Each weighed >250 kg (some >>250 kg), cost >FY19$300 M, and required operations teams with 10s of people. All required radioisotope power to operate at Jupiter and beyond. We propose a completely different approach for focused heliospheric science investigations to 125 AU, and potentially farther beyond the heliopause, without need for radioisotopes and their long, expensive launch approval process.

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Former NASA Deputy Administrator Garver Joins Earthrise Alliance

Lori Garver (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (Earthrise Alliance PR) — Lori Garver, former NASA Deputy Administrator, has teamed with leading environmental and space scientists to form Earthrise Alliance, a philanthropic initiative established to fully utilize Earth science data to combat climate change. Earthrise funds fellowships and awards grants to partner organizations that engage and activate educators, journalists, voters and decision makers. In addition, Earthrise provides partners with meaningful content, tools and applications derived from satellite data to inform the actions of these target communities.

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Intelsat Declares Boeing-Built Communications Satellite a Total Loss

LUXEMBOURG, 18 April 2019 (Intelsat PR) – Intelsat S.A. (NYSE: I) announced today that the anomaly previously disclosed on April 10, 2019 has resulted in the total loss of the Intelsat 29e spacecraft. A failure review board has been convened with the satellite’s manufacturer, Boeing, to complete a comprehensive analysis of the cause of the anomaly.

Late on April 7, the Intelsat 29e propulsion system experienced damage that caused a leak of the propellant on board the satellite resulting in a service disruption to customers on the satellite. While working to recover the satellite, a second anomaly occurred, after which all efforts to recover the satellite were unsuccessful.

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Toppled Falcon Heavy Core Stage Returns to Port

Inspector General: NASA Goddard Lags in Tech Transfer

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is lagging behind three other agency centers when it comes to transferring technology to the private sector, according to a new audit by the Office of Inspector General. [Full Report]

“Goddard…is experiencing poor technology transfer performance outcomes when compared to the other three NASA Centers we reviewed, to include a lower percentage of licenses as well as delays in processing of [New Technology Reports] and patent applications,” the audit said.

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NASA to Launch New Technologies on Next Falcon Heavy Flight

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy begins its first flight. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A new kind of atomic clock, non-toxic propellant system and missions to characterize how space weather interferes with satellites and communication transmissions are one step closer to liftoff. With the second-ever SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch complete, these NASA technologies await the powerful rocket’s next flight.

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Cygnus Carries Experiments to International Space Station

he Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus resupply spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A, Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman’s 11th contracted cargo resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station will deliver about 7,600 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station with about 7,600 pounds of science investigations and cargo after launching at 4:46 p.m. EDT Wednesday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The spacecraft launched on an Antares 230 Rocket from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A at Wallops and is scheduled to arrive at the orbiting laboratory around 5:30 a.m. Friday, April 19. Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival will begin at 4 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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NASA, Blue Origin Agreement Signals Rocketing Growth of Commercial Space

Test Stand 4670 (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Officials from NASA and the private space company Blue Origin have signed an agreement that grants the company use of a historic test stand as the agency focuses on returning to the Moon and on to Mars, and America’s commercial space industry continues to grow.

Under a Commercial Space Launch Act agreement, Blue Origin will upgrade and refurbish Test Stand 4670, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to support testing of their BE-3U and BE-4 rocket engines. The BE-4 engine was selected to power United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan rocket and Blue Origin’s New Glenn launch vehicle – both being developed to serve the expanding civil, commercial and national security space markets.

“This test stand once helped power NASA’s first launches to the Moon, which eventually led to the emergence of an entirely new economic sector – commercial space,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard. “Now, it will have a role in our ongoing commitment to facilitate growth in this sector.”

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Northrop Grumman Launches Cygnus Resupply Mission to Space Station

The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus resupply spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A, Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman’s 11th contracted cargo resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station will deliver about 7,600 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Dulles, Va. – April 17, 2019  (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) successfully launched its AntaresTM rocket carrying a CygnusTM spacecraft today at 4:46 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A on Wallops Island, Virginia, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The launch marks Northrop Grumman’s 11th cargo mission carrying supplies to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station for NASA.

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NIAC Phase II Award: Astrophysics and Technical Lab Studies of a Solar Neutrino Spacecraft Detector

Solar neutrino spacecraft detector (Credit: Nickolas Solomey)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program
Phase II Award: Up to $500,000 for 2 Years

Astrophysics and Technical Lab Studies of a Solar Neutrino Spacecraft Detector
Nickolas Solomey
Wichita State University

A small scaled-down neutrino detector prototype is proposed to be built and tested in the lab that provides the means to mature the measurement technique and detector technology for an eventual spaceflight probe mission for detecting neutrinos in close orbit of the Sun. The detector will be based upon design studies from the NIAC Phase-I work.

With the intensity of solar neutrinos substantially greater in a close solar orbit than on the Earth only a small 250 kg detector with proper shielding and surrounding veto array is needed to perform equal to a 3,000 ton detector on Earth. In addition, solar neutrino detector will be able to do unique science not obtainable by an Earth based experiment.

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SpaceX Embarks on Another Funding Round to Raise $400 Million

Gwynne Shotwell

SpaceX is seeking to raise $400 million in its latest round of fundraising. According to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, SpaceX has raised 11 percent of the total:

Total Amount Offered: $399,999,936
Total Amount Sold: $43,999,332
Total Remaining to be Sold: $356,000,604

Five investors have participated in the funding round thus far.

Elon Musk’s company is preparing to launch its Starlink constellation of satellites, which could eventually include nearly 12,000 spacecraft that would provide high-speed Internet and other communications services. The launch of the first satellites is scheduled for no earlier than May.

SpaceX has also begun testing its Raptor engine, which will power its Starship vehicle and super heavy booster.

Video of Stratolaunch’s Maiden Flight

Video Caption: In partnership with Scaled Composites, Stratolaunch successfully completed the first flight of the Stratolaunch aircraft. As part of this initial flight of the world’s largest aircraft, the pilots evaluated aircraft performance and handling qualities of the all-composite, dual-fuselage design.

The airplane took off at 0658 PDT on April 13, 2019, from the Mojave Air & Space Port, and flew for 2.5 hours, achieving a maximum speed of 189 miles per hour and reaching altitudes of up to 17,000 feet. The plane landed safely amid cheers from the team that designed and built the plane.

Northrop Grumman Engineers Load Final Cargo for Cygnus Launch


Mission engineers load the final cargo into the Cygnus resupply spacecraft onboard the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, Tuesday, April 16, 2019, at launch Pad-0A of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman’s 11th contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station will deliver about 7,600 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Cygnus is slated to launch on April 17, 2019, at 4:46 p.m. ET. Watch it live at https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html#public