“Lighten Up” – Deep Space Communications via Faraway Photons

NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A spacecraft destined to explore a unique asteroid will also test new communication hardware that uses lasers instead of radio waves.

The Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package aboard NASA’s Psyche mission utilizes photons — the fundamental particle of visible light — to transmit more data in a given amount of time. The DSOC goal is to increase spacecraft communications performance and efficiency by 10 to 100 times over conventional means, all without increasing the mission burden in mass, volume, power and/or spectrum.

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World View Successfully Flight Tests Groundbreaking Altitude Control Technology

The World View Stratollite consists of a primary lift balloon (top), secondary balloons (middle), a solar panel power generation and distribution system, and a stratocraft payload-carrying structure (bottom). (Credits: World View)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Long-duration stratospheric research missions could allow scientists to collect vast amounts of data continuously for their payloads. Such missions could benefit NASA by maturing future space technology as well as allowing for Earth observations, such as storm monitoring and forest fire tracking.

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Proton’s Competitiveness Threatened by High Insurance Costs

A Proton takes a nose dive at Baikonur. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

The Proton rocket’s’s string of failures and its year-long grounding following a 2016 launch anomaly have raised payload insurance rates so high  for the booster that its commercial viability is threatened.

Insurance premiums for launches of International Launch Services’ Russian Proton rocket, which satellite operators and insurers say is a necessary third leg for the commercial market — the SpaceX Falcon 9 and the ArianeGroup Ariane 5 being the other two — total about 12% of the insured value.

That compares with 3-4% for Ariane 5 and 4-5% for the Falcon 9.

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JAXA Spacecraft Data Indicate Massive Lava Tube on Moon

The SELENE (Kagiya) orbiter studied the moon using radar. (Credit: JAXA/SELENE/ Crescent/Akihiro Ikeshita)

Some very cool news out of Japan today where researchers say they have found an enormous lava tube stretching about 50 km (31 miles) under the lunar surface

The cavern, found in the Marius Hills area on the near side of the moon, is about 100 meters wide and extends for about 50 km, according to data taken by JAXA’s Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE), also called the Kaguya moon probe.

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ESA Role in Europe’s First All-electric Telecom Satellite

Eutelsat 172B satellite (Credit: Airbus Defence and Space)

 

PARIS (ESA PR) — Europe’s first all-electric telecom satellite has reached its final working orbit above the Pacific Ocean. Eutelsat-172B, built for Eutelsat by Airbus, carries new technologies developed through ESA-led projects, including fully articulated thruster arms.

The satellite relied entirely on electric thrusters to climb from its initial orbit into its planned slot over the equator some 35 800 km up, and is now using them to hold position.

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RS-25 Engines Ready for SLS Maiden Flight

Aerojet Rocketdyne displays the four RS-25 engines slated to fly on EM-1, the maiden flight of NASA’s SLS rocket, at its facility located at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss.  (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), announces the four RS-25 engines slated to fly on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the maiden flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), are ready for integration with the rocket’s core stage.

EM-1 is a three-week mission in which the SLS rocket will launch the Orion spacecraft into a distant retrograde orbit around the moon farther than a human-rated vehicle has traveled before, and also will deliver 13 small satellites to deep space.

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NASA Develops New Housing for In-Orbit Science Payloads

Boeing engineers, Chris Chapman, left, Greg Clark, center, and Ashesh Patel, right, perform air flow balance testing on NASA’s new Basic Express Racks. The racks, developed at Marshall Space Flight Center, will expand the capabilities for science research aboard the International Space Station. Delivery to the station is scheduled for late 2018. (Credits: NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Imagine cramming 20 years’ worth of science experiments — each requiring resources such as water, electricity and data connections — into a few closets in your home. For the crew members aboard the International Space Station, this is a reality. Thanks to an increase in investigations coming in through the National Lab and more demand for exploration technology development payloads, the space station is going to have to make room for a whole new wardrobe.

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USAF Space Command General Backs Reusable Rockets

Gen. John Raymond

The head of U.S. Air Force Space Command said he is “completely committed” to eventually using previously flown rockets to launch military payloads.

It would be “absolutely foolish” not to begin using pre-flown rockets, which bring such significant savings that they’ll soon be commonplace for the entire industry, General John W. “Jay” Raymond said in an interview Monday at Bloomberg headquarters in New York.

“The market’s going to go that way. We’d be dumb not to,” he said. “What we have to do is make sure we do it smartly.”

The Air Force won’t be able to use the recycled boosters until they’re certified for military use, a process that Raymond suggested may already be in the works.

“The folks out at Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles that work for me would be in those dialogues,” he said, declining to specify when certification could take place. “I don’t know how far down the road we’ve gotten, but I am completely committed to launching on a reused rocket, a previously flown rocket, and making sure that we have the processes in place to be able to make sure that we can do that safely.”

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Spaceport Camden Adds General to Steering Committee

WOODBINE, Ga., Oct. 16, 2017 (Spaceport Camden PR) — Major General Robert S. Dickman, the former commander of the 45 Space Wing and Director of the Eastern Range at Cape Canaveral, FL is joining the Spaceport Camden Steering Committee.

An executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and corresponding member of the International Academy of Astronautics, General Dickman also served as vice commander of what is now the 50th Space Wing at Schriever AFB, CO, responsible for operating all Air Force on-orbit satellite systems; Director of Air Force Space Systems in the Pentagon; the first Department of Defense Space Architect; the senior military officer at the National Reconnaissance Office and the Deputy for Military Space in the office of the Undersecretary of the Air Force.

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Bigelow, ULA Announce Plans for Lunar Depot

Bigelow B330 lunar depot with ULA ACES space tug. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

Las Vegas, NV and Centennial, Colo., Oct. 17, 2017 (ULA/Bigelow Aerospace PR) – Bigelow Aerospace and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are working together to launch a B330 expandable module on ULA’s Vulcan launch vehicle.  The launch would place a B330 outfitted module in Low Lunar Orbit by the end of 2022 to serve as a lunar depot.

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Operation Zuma: SpaceX to Launch Mystery Payload

SpaceX launched its 12th resupply mission to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12:31 p.m. EDT on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. (Credit: NASA Television)

Federal regulatory filings indicate SpaceX plans to launch a mysterious payload as early as Nov. 10 in a previously-undisclosed mission.

It is unusual for such a mission to remain secret so close to launch, and there has been no public claim of ownership for the payload — codenamed Zuma — from any government or commercial institution.

SpaceX did not respond to questions on the mission Saturday, but an application submitted by the launch company to the Federal Communications Commission says the flight will use a Falcon 9 booster launched from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The existence of the mission was first reported on NASASpaceflight.com Saturday, but the FCC filings are public record….

Two filings concern the secretive launch next month, one for the Falcon 9’s liftoff and climb into orbit from Florida’s Space Coast, and another for the first stage booster’s planned return to Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for refurbishment and reuse.

SpaceX has successfully launched Falcon 9 a total of 15 times in 2017. Spaceflightnow.com’s launch schedule shows that SpaceX has five more flights scheduled for this year, not including the Zuma mission. Below is the schedule with the Zuma flight included.

Remaining SpaceX Launches for 2017

10/30/17: Falcon 9 — Koreasat 5A — KSC
11/10/17: Falcon 9 — Zuma — KSC
Late November: Falcon 9 — Iridum Next 31-40 — Vandenberg
11/28/17: Falcon 9 — CRS-13 — CCAFS
4th Quarter: Falcon 9 — Hispasat 30W-6 — CCAFS
Late 2017: Falcon Heavy Demo Flight — KSC

NASA to Host Global Exploration Road Map Workshop

GOES-16 captured this view of the moon as it looked above the surface of the Earth on January 15. Like earlier GOES satellites, GOES-16 will use the moon for calibration. (Credits: NOAA/NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA will host a two-day virtual community workshop, Nov. 29 and 30, to conduct discussions with external stakeholders that will inform development of an update to the Global Exploration Roadmap (GER). The GER is a publication authored by NASA and the other 14 space agencies that comprise the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG). The roadmap outlines a phased approach to achieving the common goal of sending humans to the surface of Mars.

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SpaceFab Plans Public Use Commercial Space Telescope

Computer rendering of SpaceFab.US’s dual purpose Waypoint Space Telescope cubesat for astronomy and Earth observation, with telescope optics and solar panels extended. (Credit: SpaceFab)

ORANGE COUNTY, California (SpaceFab PR) — SpaceFab.US is a new space startup company working on space telescope satellites, asteroid mining, and space manufacturing. The company, also known as SpaceFab, is designing and building its first space telescope, scheduled for launch in late 2019. The satellite, called the Waypoint space telescope, will be available to the general public to take astronomical or Earth observation pictures, making it the world’s first dual purpose commercial space telescope. It can be used for astronomy when orbiting over the night side of Earth, and used for Earth observation when orbiting over the daylight side, about 40 to 50 minutes on each side.

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