Northrop Grumman Completes Preliminary Design Review for Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Subsystem

AZUSA, Calif., June 24, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Ball Aerospace have successfully completed the preliminary design review (PDR) for the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR) Geosynchronous (GEO) Block 0 mission payload.

Next-Gen OPIR is a satellite system that will provide improved missile warning capabilities that are more resilient against emerging threats. As the successor to the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), Next-Gen OPIR’s first block of satellites will include five space vehicles, three in geosynchronous earth orbit and two in polar orbit.

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Meet 8 Teams Sending Payloads to the Moon on Masten’s Lander

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022. (Credits: Masten Space Systems)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Masten Space Systems PR) — Imagine having the opportunity to send your payload to the lunar surface. Not next decade, but in 2022!

Well, that’s the incredible opportunity that the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) project — and Masten Space Systems — has presented for 8 visionary teams and their instruments. Each and every one is cool in their own way and we couldn’t be prouder to be the lunar lander company that will set them down safely on the surface of the Moon. 

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Satellite Host Named for NASA Air Pollution Sensor

Maxar will build the Intelsat 40e geostationary communications satellite and integrate NASA’s TEMPO payload with it. (Credit: Maxar Technologies)

A NASA instrument that will measure air quality over North America in unprecedented detail during daylight hours now has a satellite host.

Maxar Technologies and Intelsat recently agreed to partner to host NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) instrument onboard the Intelsat 40e mission. In 2019, NASA selected Maxar to host the TEMPO instrument utilizing the U.S. Air Force Hosted Payload Solutions (HoPS) contract vehicle.

Intelsat 40e is based on Maxar’s 1300-class satellite platform and will provide commercial satellite communications for Intelsat customers in North and Central America. The satellite is scheduled to launch into geostationary orbit 22,236 miles above Earth’s equator in 2022.

TEMPO will make hourly measurements of atmospheric gases — including ozone, nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde as well as aerosols — across North America and provide air quality products that will be made publicly available and help improve air quality forecasting.

“We are excited about this important step required to lay the operational framework for TEMPO’s critical air quality measurements. We look forward to working closely with both Maxar and Intelsat for the successful integration, launch and deployment of TEMPO,” said Stephen Hall, TEMPO project manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

The TEMPO instrument project is led by Principal Investigator Kelly Chance from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The instrument was developed by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, and is in storage awaiting shipment to Maxar’s satellite manufacturing facility in Palo Alto, California.

TEMPO will be part of a constellation of instruments measuring air quality over the Northern Hemisphere that will also include the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-4, currently in development, and South Korea’s Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer, scheduled to launch later this month.

Ball Aerospace Delivers Earth Science Instrument for Landsat 9

Landsat 9 Operational Land Imager 2 (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

BOULDER, Colo., Sept. 27, 2019 (Ball Aerospace PR) — Ball Aerospace delivered the Operational Land Imager 2 (OLI-2) for Landsat 9, completing development of the instrument on schedule and under budget. Ball will continue to support instrument integration and spacecraft-level testing, working closely with NASA and the Landsat 9 spacecraft provider.

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Air Force Selects Ball Aerospace, Microsoft to Demonstrate Cloud Processing for LEO Constellations

BOULDER, Colo., Sept. 17, 2019 (Ball Aerospace PR) — Ball Aerospace and Microsoft were selected to demonstrate agile cloud processing capabilities in support of the U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center’s Commercially Augmented Space Inter Networked Operations (CASINO) project. The demonstration will show how simultaneous, worldwide data streams from large, distributed constellations of small satellites can be processed quickly using Microsoft’s Azure cloud and Ball Aerospace algorithms.

Additionally, the demonstration will include a single downlink directly into a Microsoft data center using a Ball Aerospace phased array antenna.

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Ball Aerospace’s Green Propellant Mission Ready to Launch

Ball Aerospace technicians use specialized equipment to build the GPIM satellite so that the space vehicle instruments and thrusters align perfectly with the payload interface. (Credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.)

BOULDER, Colo., June 21, 2019 (Ball Aerospace PR) — A Ball Aerospace satellite used for NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) is ready for launch, scheduled for no earlier than June 24 on board a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Ball built the small satellite, which contains NASA’s first opportunity to demonstrate a new “green” propellant and propulsion system in orbit – an alternative to conventional chemical propulsion systems.

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A Look at the Payloads in Falcon Heavy’s STP-2 Mission

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

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — The Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission, managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), is targeting launch on June 24, 2019, with the launch window opening at 11:30 p.m. ET. Lifting off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, this mission will deliver 24 satellites to space on the DoD’s first ever SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle.

The STP-2 mission will be among the most challenging launches in SpaceX history with four separate upper-stage engine burns, three separate deployment orbits, a final propulsive passivation maneuver and a total mission duration of over six hours. In addition, the U.S. Air Force plans to reuse side boosters from the Arabsat-6A Falcon Heavy launch, recovered after a return to launch site landing, making it the first reused Falcon Heavy ever flown for the U.S. Air Force.
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Ball Aerospace’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission Satellite Arrives in Florida

A Ball Aerospace engineer adjusts the thermal insulation on NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission spacecraft bus following integration of the propulsion system. (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

BOULDER, Colo., May 20, 2019 (Ball Aerospace PR) — The Ball Aerospace-built small spacecraft for NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) arrived in Florida today to prepare for a June launch on board a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. GPIM is NASA’s first opportunity to demonstrate a new “green” propellant and propulsion system in orbit – an alternative to conventional chemical propulsion systems.

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ULA & Ball Aerospace Seeks Student Payloads for Launch

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (ULA PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) has issued its request for student teams from kindergarten through 12th grade to create “payloads” for the 2019 ULA and Ball Aerospace Student Rocket Launch. More than 20 K-12 student teams will have a chance to design, build and launch objects, experiments or instruments on the ULA-intern-built Future Heavy Super Sport rocket next summer. Teams can choose to compete for a chance to win up to $5,000 for their school or sponsoring nonprofit organization by guiding their payload closest to a designated ground-based target.
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NASA’s NEOWISE Asteroid-Hunter Spacecraft Releases Fourth Years of Survey Data

NEOWISE (Credit; NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission has released its fourth year of survey data. Since the mission was restarted in December 2013, after a period of hibernation, the asteroid- and comet-hunter has completely scanned the skies nearly eight times and has observed and characterized 29,375 objects in four years of operations. This total includes 788 near-Earth objects and 136 comets since the mission restart.

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NIAC Phase I Awards Focused on Astronomy & Astrophysics


The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at three Phase I awards focused on astronomy and astrophysics.

Modular Active Self-Assembling Space Telescope Swarms
Dmitry Savransky
Cornell University

Astrophysics and Technical Study of a Solar Neutrino Spacecraft
Nickolas Solomey
Wichita State University

Spectrally-Resolved Synthetic Imaging Interferometer
Jordan Wachs
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation

Each award is worth up to $125,000 for a nine-month study. Descriptions of the awards are below.
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NASA Invests in Shapeshifters, Biobots & Other Visionary Technology


WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA is investing in technology concepts that include meteoroid impact detection, space telescope swarms, and small orbital debris mapping technologies that may one day be used for future space exploration missions.

The agency selected 25 early-stage technology proposals that have the potential to transform future human and robotic exploration missions, introduce new exploration capabilities, and significantly improve current approaches to building and operating aerospace systems.

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NASA’s Kepler Spacecraft Nearing the End as Fuel Runs Low

This artist’s concept depicts select planetary discoveries made to date by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. (Credit: NASA/W. Stenzel)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Trailing Earth’s orbit at 94 million miles away, the Kepler space telescope has survived many potential knock-outs during its nine years in flight, from mechanical failures to being blasted by cosmic rays. At this rate, the hardy spacecraft may reach its finish line in a manner we will consider a wonderful success. With nary a gas station to be found in deep space, the spacecraft is going to run out of fuel. We expect to reach that moment within several months.

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NASA Selects In-Space Propulsion Projects for SBIR Funding

NASA has selected six in-space propulsion projects for funding under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The phase II contracts last for two years and are worth up to $750,000.

The awards include:

e beam, Inc.
Beaverton, OR
Cathode for Electric Space Propulsion Utilizing Iodine as Propellant

Plasma Controls, LLC
Fort Collins, CO
Iodine Hollow Cathode

Quest Thermal Group
Arvada, CO
Multi-Environment MLI: Novel Multi-Functional Insulation for Mars Missions

Streamline Automation, LLC
Huntsville, AL
Hybrid Propulsion Technology for Robotic Science Missions

TDA Research, Inc.
Wheat Ridge, CO
Novel Sorbent to Remove Radioactive Halogens and Noble Gases from NTP Engine Exhaust

WASK Engineering, Inc.
Cameron Park, CA
High Response Control Valve

Summaries of the proposals follow.

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ABB Satellite-based Technologies Help Improve Weather Forecasts, Save Lives

The Joint Polar Satellite System-1, or JPSS-1, spacecraft is checked out on Oct. 8, 2015, at Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado. The Launch Configuration Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) measures the electromagnetic emissions and subjects it to expected electromagnetic radiation that the satellite would experience at the launch site. (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

QUEBEC CITY, Jan. 15, 2018 (ABB Canada) – Successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the JPSS-1 satellite is joining the NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting satellite in the same orbit to provide meteorologists with data on atmospheric temperature and moisture, clouds, sea-surface temperature, ocean color, sea ice cover, volcanic ash, and fire detection. The data will improve weather forecasting, such as predicting a hurricane’s track, and will help agencies involved with post-storm recovery by visualizing storm damage and the geographic extent of power outages.

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