Video: Meet the Really Scary Looking Robot Russia is Sending to ISS

Video Caption: Roscosmos Space Corporation launches Soyuz missile to the International Space Station piloted for the first time in history by the humanoid robot Skybot F-850. F.E.D.O.R. chooses The Rockets track “Electric Delight” for his journey – on this official video.

SMC Awards SBIR Phase 2 Contract for Space Situational Awareness

LOS ANGELES (USAF SMC PR) — The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) Directorate of Special Programs (DirSP) awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 2 contract to Bluestaq LLC who will develop the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Marketplace program under the auspices of AFWERX.

AFWERX was created in 2017 by then Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to support rapid innovation within the Defense Department. SBIR is a prime example of the AFWERX goal of fostering a culture of innovation.

(more…)

ZERO-G Celebrates 15 Years

Participants experience microgravity aboard a Zero-G Corporation parabolic flight. (PRNewsFoto/Zero Gravity Corporation, Al Powers)

ARLINGTON, Va. (ZERO-G PR) – 2019 marks a historic year for the country’s first weightless flight company,Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G), as they celebrate 15 years of offering extraordinary experiences. As the company looks forward toward a path of exploration, they celebrate a history that is marked with incredible milestones and unforgettable airborne memories.

(more…)

Aethera’s New RF Power Processing Unit for Ad Astra’s VASIMR Engine Completes Full Power Acceptance Tests

WEBSTER, Texas USA and HALIFAX, NS, Canada – A new generation radio-frequency (RF) Power Processing Unit (PPU) for the VASIMR engine, built by Aethera Technologies Ltd. of Canada, has completed a series of full power acceptance tests at Ad Astra Rocket Company’s Texas facility near Houston. The unit completed these tests on August 12 by operating in a thermal steady-state with no anomalies at its full power rating of 120 kW.

The RF PPU is now ready to be incorporated into Ad Astra’s vacuum facility so that it can be tested with the VX- 200SS VASIMR prototype. These tests are part of Ad Astra’s ongoing program under the NASA NextSTEP partnership contract.

(more…)

Presidential Memorandum on Launch of Spacecraft Containing Space Nuclear Systems

Credit: Matt Wade

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE
THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION
THE SECRETARY OF ENERGY
THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL
PROTECTION AGENCY
THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE NATIONAL
AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
THE CHAIRMAN OF THE NUCLEAR REGULATORY
COMMISSION
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL
SECURITY AFFAIRS
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR SCIENCE AND
TECHNOLOGY AND DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY

SUBJECT:        Launch of Spacecraft Containing Space Nuclear
Systems

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:

Section 1.  Purpose.  This memorandum updates the process for launches of spacecraft containing space nuclear systems.  Space nuclear systems include radioisotope power systems (RPSs), such as radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) and radioisotope heater units (RHUs), and fission reactors used for power and propulsion.

(more…)

Newest Chinese Communications Satellite Experiencing Problems in Orbit

China’s new communications satellite, ChinaSat 18, is suffering problems on orbit, according to media reports.

The satellite’s launch aboard a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Monday went as planned, the reports say. However ,the satellite began to malfunction after separation from the upper stage.

There has been no announcement on the cause of the problems.

Delta IV Set to Launch GPS III Satellite on Thursday

Delta IV on the launch pad at Vandenberg. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., August 20, 2019 (ULA PR) — The ULA Launch Readiness Review was completed today and everything is progressing toward the ULA Delta IV launch carrying the GPS III Magellan mission for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.

The mission is set to lift off on Thursday, Aug. 22 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The 27-minute launch window opens at 9 a.m. ET.

The live broadcast coverage of launch will begin at 8:40 a.m. ET. Live launch updates and webcast are available at: www.ulalaunch.com.

(more…)

ISRO Chairman K. Sivan Gives Press Briefing on Chandrayaan-2 Mission

Chandrayaan2 Vikram lander (Credit: ISRO)

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — A Press Meet was organised today (August 20, 2019) at ISRO Headquarters, Bengaluru on the occasion of Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) of Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft. Dr K Sivan, Chairman, ISRO addressed and interacted with several regional, national and international media persons during the meet. The live telecast of this meet was made available on ISRO website and You tube Channel.

(more…)

NASA Asks American Companies to Deliver Supplies for Artemis Moon Missions

Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

By Tammy Long
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

In another major step toward landing American astronauts on the lunar surface by 2024, NASA is asking industry to respond to a Request for Proposals to deliver cargo, science experiments and supplies to the Gateway to support Artemis missions to the lunar surface. Commercial supply services will support the agency’s Artemis lunar exploration program which includes sending the first woman and the next man to surface of the Moon within five years, and preparing for human exploration of Mars.

(more…)

Chandrayaan-2 Enters Lunar Orbit

Chandrayaan 2 orbiter near the moon. (Credit: ISRO)

Bengaluru, India (ISRO PR) — Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) maneuver was completed successfully today (August 20, 2019). The duration of maneuver was 1738 seconds beginning from 0902 hrs IST. With this, Chandrayaan-2 was successfully inserted into a Lunar orbit. The orbit achieved is 114 km x 18072 km.

Following this, a series of orbit maneuvers will be performed on Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to enable it to enter its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the Moon’s surface.

Subsequently, the lander will separate from the Orbiter and enters into a 100 km X 30 km orbit around the Moon.  Then, it will perform a series of complex braking maneuvers to soft land in the South polar region of the Moon on September 7, 2019.

The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Bylalu, near Bengaluru. All the systems of Chandrayaan-2 are healthy.

The next Lunar bound orbit maneuver is scheduled tomorrow (August 21, 2019) between 1230-13:30 hrs IST.

Newt’s Back in Town, Pushing a Moon Prize

Newt Gingrich (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Many of you know that I am not a big fan of President Donald Trump. But, occasionally I think he is capable of doing something smart.

One of those smart acts was to appoint Callista Louise Gingrich as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See in Rome. The smart aspect has nothing to do with her qualifications for the job, but rather what her presence in Rome would spare the United States.

I’m referring, of course, to getting her husband, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, out of the country. Unless the union has become a sham, and he was hooking up with a mistress in the U.S. as he had with Callista during marriage no 2, Newt would be out of the headlines and out of everyone’s line of sight for long periods of time.

(more…)

Europa Clipper’s Mission to Jupiter’s Icy Moon Confirmed

Europa Clipper in orbit around Europa. (Credit; NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — An icy ocean world in our solar system that could tell us more about the potential for life on other worlds is coming into focus with confirmation of the EuropaClipper mission’s next phase. The decision allows the mission to progress to completion of final design, followed by the construction and testing of the entire spacecraft and science payload.  

“We are all excited about the decision that moves the Europa Clipper mission one key step closer to unlocking the mysteries of this ocean world,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We are building upon the scientific insights received from the flagship Galileo and Cassini spacecraft and working to advance our understanding of our cosmic origin, and even life elsewhere.”

The mission will conduct an in-depth exploration of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, and investigate whether the icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life, honing our insights into astrobiology.  To develop this mission in the most cost-effective fashion, NASA is targeting to have the Europa Clipper spacecraft complete and ready for launch as early as 2023. The agency baseline commitment, however, supports a launch readiness date by 2025. 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California leads the development of the Europa Clipper mission in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for the Science Mission Directorate. Europa Clipper is managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. 

Astrobotic Selects United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur Rocket to Launch its First Mission to the Moon

Astrobotic of Pittsburgh has proposed to fly as many as 14 payloads to a large crater on the near side of the Moon. (Credit: Astrobotic)

Pittsburgh, Penn., and Centennial, Colo., Aug. 19, 2019 (Astrobotic/ULA PR)– Astrobotic announced today that it selected United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket in a competitive commercial procurement to launch its Peregrine lunar lander to the moon in 2021.

(more…)

A Brief History of Spaceport America

Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

UPDATED: 8/20/19, 12:08 p.m. PDT

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Sometime in 2020, if all goes according to plan, British billionaire Richard Branson will board Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity at Spaceport America in New Mexico and take the first commercial suborbital space flight in history.

The landmark flight, which Virgin has been trying to conduct for 15 years, will also be the culmination of a 30-year effort by New Mexico to become a commercial space power.

(more…)