NIAC Phase II Award: Rotary-Motion-Extended Array Synthesis (R-MXAS)

Rotary-motion-extended array synthesis (Credit: John Kendra)

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

Rotary-Motion-Extended Array Synthesis (R-MXAS)
John Kendra
Leidos, Inc.

R-MXAS is a revolutionary aerospace architecture for realizing a synthetic aperture imaging radiometer (SAIR) with dramatically lower size, weight and power (SWaP) than existing state-of-the-art (SOTA) methods. The space-based component of R-MXAS is a single platform comprising a 1-D sparse/decimated antenna array on a rigid tether (deployed parallel to the horizon) and one or more additional tethered antennas that rotate in a plane orthogonal to the 1-D array.

The processing that correlates the data from these antenna systems and performs image reconstruction has both space-based and ground-based components. The processing exploits the interferometric baselines formed between the rotating tethered antenna at radius R and each of the antennas of the 1-D array on the rigid tether.

2019 Phase 1 and Phase II Selections
2011-2019 Consolidated List

Stratolaunch Completes Historic First Flight of Aircraft

Stratolaunch takes off. (Credit: Stratolaunch)

MOJAVE, CA – April 13, 2019 (Stratolaunch PR) – Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, founded by Paul G. Allen, today successfully completed the first flight of the world’s largest all-composite aircraft,  the  Stratolaunch. With a dual fuselage design and wingspan greater than the length of an American football field, the Stratolaunch aircraft took flight at 0658 PDT from the Mojave Air & Space Port. Achieving a maximum speed of 189 miles per hour, the plane flew for 2.5 hours over the Mojave Desert at altitudes up to 17,000 feet. As part of the initial flight, the pilots evaluated aircraft performance and handling qualities before landing successfully back at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

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Stratolaunch Flies!



by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Stratolaunch’s colossal rocket-launching Roc aircraft flew for the first time on Saturday over California’s Mojave Desert, fulfilling a dream of its backer, the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Powered by six Boeing 747 engine, the dual fuselage aircraft roared down runway 12-30 at the Mojave Air and Space Port and soared into the sky a wing that spans 385 ft (117.3 m) in length. The pilots flew over the High Desert for more than two hours before making a low pass over the runway.

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NIAC Phase II Award: High Étendue Multiple Object Spectrographic Telescope

High Étendue Multiple Object Spectrographic Telescope (Credit: Tom Ditto)

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

The High Étendue Multiple Object Spectrographic Telescope (THE MOST)
Tom Ditto
3DeWitt LLC

The largest animal ever to exist, the blue whale, has its enormous size because it floats in water. In outer space at zero-G there should be relaxed restrictions on the aperture and collection area of telescopes. Unfortunately, NASA has struggled for decades to launch a space telescope that enjoys even a fraction of the size of large ground telescopes.

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Feds: Former Executive Used CASIS Funds to Pay for Prostitutes

Florida Today reports that a former CASIS executive has been indicted for allegedly using the non-profit organization to pay for prostitutes and falsifying his tax returns.

Charles Resnick, served as chief economist for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, or CASIS, which is primarily funded by about $15 million annually from NASA.

According to a 10-count indictment filed Thursday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa, Resnick created phony receipts and other documents when filing expense reports that hid spending on prostitutes and escorts during trips to Europe and New York between 2011 and 2015.

“Expenses incurred for escorts, prostitutes, and commercial sexual activities were not part of the ordinary, necessary, and reasonable travel expenses or related expenses for which employees could be reimbursed,” the indictment reads. 

CASIS oversees research on the International Space Station’s National Laboratory. It receives most of its $15 million budget from NASA.

NASA TV Coverage Set for April 17 Cygnus Launch to International Space Station

From Feb. 8, 2019 when Northrop Grumman’s “S.S. John Young” Cygnus spacecraft left the International Space Station after delivering approximately 7,400 pounds of cargo to astronauts on board. The spacecraft successfully completed its tenth cargo supply mission to the International Space Station on Feb. 25. (Credit: NASA)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA’s commercial partner Northrop Grumman is scheduled to launch its Antares rocket carrying its Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the international Space Station at 4:46 p.m. EDT Wednesday, April 17. The launch, as well as briefings preceding and following liftoff, will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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SpaceX Wins NASA Launch Contract for Asteroid Redirect Test Mission

DART mission profile (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, the first-ever mission to demonstrate the capability to deflect an asteroid by colliding a spacecraft with it at high speed – a technique known as a kinetic impactor.

The total cost for NASA to launch DART is approximately $69 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs.

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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Launches Communications Satellite, Hits Landing Trifecta

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launched its first commercial satellite on Thursday, with its three first stage boosters successfully landing for later reuse.

The world’s most powerful booster lifted off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 6:35 p.m. EDT. The rocket successfully orbited the Arabsat 6A communications satellite.

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Bersheet Hit Moon at 500 Km/h After Engine Failure

Beresheet lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

YEHUD, Israel, April 12, 2019 (SpaceIL PR) — Preliminary data supplied by the engineering teams of SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IA) suggests a technical glitch in one of Beresheet’s components triggered the chain of events yesterday that caused the main engine of the spacecraft to malfunction. Without the main engine working prop3erly, it was impossible to stop Beresheet’s velocity. Beresheet overcame the issue by restarting the engine. However, by that time, its velocity was too high to slow down and the landing could not be completed as planned.

Preliminary technical information collected by the teams shows that the first technical issue occurred at 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) above the moon. At 150 meters (492 feet) from the ground, when the connection with the spacecraft was lost completely, Beresheet was moving vertically at 500 km/h (310.7 miles) to the inevitable collision with the lunar surface. Comprehensive tests will be held next week to gain a better understanding of the events.

SpaceIL’s Beresheet Spacecraft Crashes on Moon

A graphic showing Beresheet’s path to the Moon. Dates correspond with Israel Standard Time. (Credits: SpaceIL)

The first privately funded moon landing crashed onto the lunar surface on Thursday.

SpaceIL’s Beresheet lander got about 10 km above the moon when it began experiencing a problem with its engine. Communications were lost and then controllers announced that the spacecraft had crashed.

“If at first you don’t succeed, you try again,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who joined the SpaceIL team at the control center.

The $100 mission by the former Google Lunar X Prize team was largely unwritten by billionaire Morris Kahn with some funding assistance from the Israel Space Agency.

Israel was attempting to become the fourth nation to successfully land on the moon after the United States, Soviet Union and China.

Officials put a brave face on the failure, saying SpaceIL had been successful in placing the satellite into orbit around the moon before today’s unsuccessful landing attempt.

If the landing had succeeded, SpaceIL would have received a $1 million award XPRIZE Chairman Peter Diamandis. XPRIZE had run the Google Lunar X Prize, which was a $30 million competition to land a rover on the moon capable of traveling 500 meters across the surface.

Google canceled the competition in January 2018 after numerous extensions when it became clear that none of the remaining teams was close to winning the prize.

Virgin Orbit and EXOLAUNCH Sign Agreement to Deliver Small Satellites to LEO

Cosmic Girl performs first captive carry with LauncherOne. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (EXOLAUNCH PR) – April 11, 2019. EXOLAUNCH, a leading Germany-based launch services provider and cluster integrator for small satellites, and Virgin Orbit, a California-based launch vehicle provider for small satellites, today announced the signing of an MOU for transporting EXOLAUNCH customers’ payloads on dedicated and rideshare missions with Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne as early as 2020.

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SpaceIL’s Beresheet Lander Set to Touchdown on Moon Today

Watch the live broadcast here starting at  2:25 pm EDT (11:45 am PDT).

Astroscale Raises $30 Million Series D Round, Opens U.S. Office

End-of-Life Service by Astroscale demonstrator (ELSA-d) satellite. (Credit: Astroscale UK Ltd)

DENVER, April 10, 2019 (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market-leader in developing a space debris removal service to secure long-term orbital sustainability, today announced the opening of a new office in Denver, Colorado (“Astroscale U.S.”), adding a strategic United States base to already established entities in Singapore, Japan and the United Kingdom. In concert with the expansion of its global presence, Astroscale has solidified its leadership team and secured an additional US $30 million in an extension of its Series D investment round. The funding extension round brings the total Series D amount to US $80 million and total capital raised to US $132 million.

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