Brad Pitt to Speak with NASA Astronaut on Space Station about Artemis Program

Brad Pitt in “Ad Astra.” (Credit; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — As NASA prepares to send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024 under the Artemis program, Brad Pitt is playing an astronaut in his latest film. Now the actor will have the opportunity to discuss what it’s truly like to live and work in space with a NASA crew member living aboard the International Space Station. 

Pitt’s Earth-to-space call will air live at 11:35 a.m. EDT Monday, Sept. 16 on NASA Television and the agency’s website

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NASA Racks Up Two Emmy Nominations for Mission Coverage, Shares One with SpaceX

The Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), located on the robotic arm of NASA’s InSight lander, took this picture of the Martian surface on Nov. 26, 2018, the same day the spacecraft touched down on the Red Planet. The camera’s transparent dust cover is still on in this image, to prevent particulates kicked up during landing from settling on the camera’s lens. This image was relayed from InSight to Earth via NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft, currently orbiting Mars. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

UPDATE: NASA has won an Emmy for interactive programming for its coverage of the SpaceX Demonstration Mission-1. Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted, “Congrats to all involved and those who help tell the @NASA story every day!”

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced July 16 two award nominations for NASA for its coverage of a Mars mission and the agency’s first test of a spacecraft that will help bring crewed launches to the International Space Station back to U.S. soil.

The nominations for the 71st Emmy Awards went to:

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One Giant Leap for Lunar Landing Navigation Taken in Mojave

This map of the Moon shows the five candidate landing sites chosen by the Apollo Site Selection Board in February 1968. Photographs gathered during earlier uncrewed reconnaissance missions gave NASA information about terrain features. (Credit: NASA)

By Nicole Quenelle
NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center

MOJAVE, Calif., September 13, 2019 (NASA PR) — When Apollo 11’s lunar module, Eagle, landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969, it first flew over an area littered with boulders before touching down at the Sea of Tranquility. The site had been selected based on photos collected over two years as part of the Lunar Orbiter program.

But the “sensors” that ensured Eagle was in a safe spot before touching down – those were the eyes of NASA Astronaut Neil Armstrong.

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First Earth Observation Satellite with Artificial Intelligence Ready to Launch

ɸ-Sat AI (Credit: CERN/M. Brice)

CATALONIA, Spain (ESA PR) — A few months from now will see the launch of the first European satellite to demonstrate how onboard artificial intelligence can improve the efficiency of sending Earth observation data back to Earth. Dubbed ɸ-Sat, or PhiSat, this revolutionary artificial intelligence technology will fly on one of the two CubeSats that make up the FSSCat mission – a Copernicus Masters winning idea.

As the overall 2017 Copernicus Masters winner, FSSCat, was proposed by Spain’s Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and developed by a consortium of European companies and institutes.

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Virgin Galactic’s David Mackay to Give Talk in Mojave

Chief Pilot David Mackay celebrates a successful flight with champagne. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic Chief Pilot David Mackay will give a talk about the history of flight at the monthly Plain Crazy Saturday event in Mojave on Sept. 21. The talk will begin at 11 a.m. in the the Mojave Air and Space Port administration building’s board room.

The title of the talk is, “100 Years of Flying Machines: From a Bleriot to a Ballistic Space Flight….With a Few Others in Between.” Seating is limited: please RSVP to info@mojavemuseum.org.

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Learning to Live on the Moon

Astronauts training in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in conditions simulating those on the moon. (Credit: NASA/Bill Brassard)

In NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, teams are in the early stages of evaluating how astronauts would live and work on the Moon.

In this image taken on Sept. 5, 2019, the teams are moving around, setting up habitats, collecting samples and deploying experiments as they will on the Moon, beginning with Artemis III in 2024. NASA astronauts wear weighted vests and backpacks to simulate walking on the Moon, which has one-sixth the gravity of Earth.

Astronauts Drew Feustel and Don Pettit are among those training in the massive pool, which is used primarily to train astronauts for spacewalks aboard the International Space Station.

Billionaire Japanese Moonaut Sells Majority Share of Fashion Company

Yusaku Maezawa at SpaceX headquarters. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

AFP reports Japanese billionaire billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who has booked a trip around the moon with SpaceX, will sell a majority stake in the Zozo fashion retailer he founded to Yahoo Japan for as much as 400.7 billion yen ($3.7 billion).

Yahoo Japan will acquire up to to 152.95 million shares for a 50.1 percent stake in the company, AFP reports. The total includes 92.7 million shares owned by Maezawa, who holds 30.37 percent of Zozo.

AFP reports he decided to sell to focus on a new business and his plans to fly around the moon in SpaceX’s Starship vehicle in 2023.

“I will leave Zozo’s future in the hands of a new president, and I’ll move on to a new path,” he said in a tweet.

The 43-year-old former wannabe rock star has a personal fortune this year valued around $2 billion, making him Japan’s 22nd richest person.

He made international headlines by booking a ticket aboard a SpaceX rocket, as well as for his purchase in 2017 of a Jean-Michel Basquiat masterpiece for $110.5 million.

At a press conference on Thursday, Maezawa cited his space plans and ambition to start a new business as reasons for stepping down.

NMSU, Spaceport America to Announce STEM Partnership, Unveil Spaceport America’s New Las Cruces Office

Las Cruces, NM – Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University hosted a reception on Wednesday celebrating Spaceport America’s new home in Las Cruces, as well as a new collaborative agreement between NMSU and Spaceport America.

The reception also celebrated the signing of a memorandum of agreement between Spaceport America and NMSU to form a collaborative effort to advance student success in the STEM fields, along with research, economic development and community outreach.

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NASA’s Hubble Finds Water Vapor on Habitable-Zone Exoplanet for 1st Time

This artist’s impression shows the planet K2-18b, its host star and an accompanying planet in this system. K2-18b is now the only super-Earth exoplanet known to host both water and temperatures that could support life. UCL researchers used archive data from 2016 and 2017 captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and developed open-source algorithms to analyze the starlight filtered through K2-18b’s atmosphere. The results revealed the molecular signature of water vapor, also indicating the presence of hydrogen and helium in the planet’s atmosphere. (Credits: ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Its size and surface gravity are much larger than Earth’s, and its radiation environment may be hostile, but a distant planet called K2-18b has captured the interest of scientists all over the world. For the first time, researchers have detected water vapor signatures in the atmosphere of a planet beyond our solar system that resides in the “habitable zone,” the region around a star in which liquid water could potentially pool on the surface of a rocky planet.

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Newly Discovered Comet Is Likely Interstellar Visitor

Comet C/2019 Q4 as imaged by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii’s Big Island on Sept. 10, 2019. (Credits: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A newly discovered comet has excited the astronomical community this week because it appears to have originated from outside the solar system. The object — designated C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) — was discovered on Aug. 30, 2019, by Gennady Borisov at the MARGO observatory in Nauchnij, Crimea. The official confirmation that comet C/2019 Q4 is an interstellar comet has not yet been made, but if it is interstellar, it would be only the second such object detected. The first, ‘Oumuamua, was observed and confirmed in October 2017.

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Annual Fundraising Campaign: Please Help Parabolic Arc!

Hi everybody.

You have all been so supportive of Parabolic Arc over the years. I want to thank you for your readership and comments and for spreading the word about our work through Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

But, now I need your help. We’re once again seeking donations as part of Parabolic Arc’s annual fund-raising campaign. Your contribution will help us to continue delivering all the latest news and analysis of the rapidly growing space industry.

Follow the link and, in just a few clicks, you will be able to support the valuable work we do here. Any amount will help.

Thank you again for all of your support.

Doug

Planetary Scientist Steve Squyres Joins Blue Origin as Chief Scientist

Steven W. Squyres

Steve Squyres, who served as principal investigator for NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, is retiring from Cornell University to become chief scientist at Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, the Cornell Chronicle reports.

“Cornell has been a wonderful place for me, as both a student and a professor. With the Mars rover missions behind us, it’s time for me to find a new challenge, but I will always be a proud Cornellian,” Squyres said.

“Scientist, scholar and space explorer, Steve transformed planetary exploration through his leadership of the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers,” said Jonathan I. Lunine, the David C. Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences and chair of the Department of Astronomy. “Now he goes on to a new challenge, working to transform the architecture of spaceflight at one of the most innovative companies in the industry.”

[…]

“This mission [Spirit and Opportunity] was a great teaching tool,” Squyres said earlier this year for the celebration of the mission’s 15th anniversary. “It’s easy to think of science as a static body of knowledge that you learn from a textbook. It is not. We know more about Mars today than we knew two days ago. For years I’ve started each lecture with, ‘Here’s something that just came down from Mars.’”

“Steve has inspired countless students and colleagues over his decades at Cornell,” said Ray Jayawardhana, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences and professor of astronomy. “He brought Mars to campus and gave us all a chance to see another world close-up. His infectious enthusiasm for exploration will continue to stimulate planetary scientists at Cornell for years to come. We wish him all the best.”

NASA landed Spirit and Opportunity on Mars in January 2004 on nominal 90-day missions. Spirit last communicated with controllers on May 25, 2011 after more than seven years on the surface. Opportunity last communicated on June 10, 2018 as a dust storm engulfed the rover.

Long March 4B Successfully Launches 3 Satellites

Long March 4B booster lifts off from Taiyuan with three satellites aboard on Sept. 12, 2019. (Credit: CGWIC)

BEIJING (CGWIC PR) — At 11:26, September 12th, 2019 BJT, the 5-meter Optical Satellite was successfully launched by Long March 4B (LM-4B) launch vehicle from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center (TSLC), with two small satellites aboard, ICE-PATHFINDER (also known as BNU-1) of Beijing Normal University and Taurus-1 of Shanghai ASES Spaceflight Technology Co. Ltd.

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Michael Collins Honored with 2019 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy

Michael Collins

WASHINGTON,DC (NAA PR) – The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) is pleased to announce that Major General Michael Collins has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy for … “his lifelong dedication to aerospace and public service in the highest order, both as a pioneering astronaut and inspired director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.”

Established by NAA in 1948 to honor the memory of Orville and Wilbur Wright, the trophy is awarded annually to a living American for “…significant public service of enduring value to aviation in the United States.” One of the most important, historic, and visible aerospace awards in the world, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy reflects a timeline of the most innovative inventors, explorers, industrialists, and public servants in aeronautics and astronautics.

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