NASA, SpaceX Launch DART: First Test Mission to Defend Planet Earth

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft onboard, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, Pacific time (Nov. 24 Eastern time) from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. DART is the world’s first full-scale planetary defense test, demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection technology. The mission was built and is managed by Johns Hopkins APL for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world’s first full-scale mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards, launched Wednesday at 1:21 a.m. EST on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Just one part of NASA’s larger planetary defense strategy, DART – built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland – will impact a known asteroid that is not a threat to Earth. Its goal is to slightly change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be accurately measured using ground-based telescopes.

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Testing Mini-radar to Peer Inside an Asteroid

Juventas CubeSat undergoing tests at ESTEC in The Netherlands. (Credit: ESA-P. de Maagt)

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands (ESA PR) — A specially upgraded radio-frequency chamber in ESA’s technical heart is testing what is set to become the smallest radar system to be flown in space, hosted aboard a breadbox-sized spacecraft.

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Net Zero Space Declaration Nets 11 Signatories

The scales of the space debris problem (Credit: ESA)

Eleven space stakeholders have pledged themselves to avoiding the future generation of space debris and remediating the junk that is already clogging up Earth orbit by signing the Net Zero Space Declaration last week.

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UK Government Backs Space Technology to Tackle Climate Change

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Trailblazing technology that will help tackle climate change and predict global disasters using satellites is receiving new funding from the UK Space Agency.

Eleven UK organisations have been awarded a share of just under £7 million of government funding to put into action the latest advances in space innovation. The majority of the projects focus on climate change or environmental management, with others designed to secure our telecommunication systems and protect digital infrastructure against cyber-attacks.

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Epsilon Launches 9 Japanese Technology Demonstration Satellites

Epsilon launch (Credit: JAXA webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched nine technology demonstration satellites on Tuesday, Nov. 9, aboard an Epsilon booster from the Uchinoura Space Center.

The payloads include a small satellite named RApid Innovative payload demonstration SatellitE-2 (RAISE-2), four microsatellites and four CubeSats that will demonstrate 14 technologies. The flight was done under JAXA’s Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program.

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Blue Canyon Technologies Delivers First of Four CubeSats to NASA’s Ames for Starling Technology Demo

LAFAYETTE, Colo., October 20, 2021 (Blue Canyon PR) — Small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies LLC (“BCT” or “Blue Canyon”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, delivered the first of four 6U CubeSats to NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. The CubeSats will support a technology demonstration called Starling. NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate funds the demonstration. Under the current contract agreement, in addition to designing and manufacturing the spacecraft buses, BCT will also provide engineering and support to Starling mission operations for the four flight-qualified 6U CubeSats.

“The delivery of CubeSats will allow Ames to continue with payload integration and testing of the integrated flight unit,” said Stephanee Borck, senior program manager at Blue Canyon Technologies. “A lot of hard work from both teams has gone into making it thus far in the project. We look forward to delivering the next three CubeSats and seeing what the technology demonstration can do on-orbit.”

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Rocket Lab Selected to Launch NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System

Advanced Composite Solar Sail System on NanoAvionics’ 12U CubeSat. (Credit: NanoAvionics)

The Electron rocket will deploy an innovative satellite designed to test new deployable structures and materials technologies for solar sail propulsion systems, paving the way for sunlight to power future deep space exploration

LONG BEACH, Calif., October 6, 2021 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today announced it has been selected to launch NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System, or ACS3, on the Electron launch vehicle.

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National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Launches Phase 4a of MagQuest Challenge on HeroX to Advance NASA’s Ability to Measure Earth’s Magnetic Field

Millions of Dollars to Help Accelerate Novel Approaches to Geomagnetic Data Collection for the World Magnetic Model

SPRINGFIELD, Va., September 28, 2021 (HeroX PR) — The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) just launched the Demonstration Phase (Phase 4a) of its MagQuest Challenge to develop novel data collection approaches for the World Magnetic Model.

The WMM ultimately ensures the accuracy of navigation because it corrects for differences in magnetic forces at a user’s location. The model is used by thousands of systems for mobile navigation apps and is critical for military and commercial uses around the world.

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ULA to Launch Landsat 9 Satellite on Monday from Vandenberg

Landsat 9 (Credit: NASA)

VANDERBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (ULA Mission Update) — Everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V launch carrying the Landsat 9 mission for NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. The mission is planned to lift off on Mon., Sept. 27 at 11:11 a.m. PDT from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. 

Live broadcast coverage of launch will begin at 10:30 a.m. PDT on Sept. 27 and will broadcast live on NASA TV. Live launch updates and webcast available at: www.ulalaunch.com

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Small Satellite, Big Questions: CuPID CubeSat Will Get New Perspective on Sun-Earth Boundary

In April 2021, Connor O’Brien and Emil Atz complete “vibration testing” of CuPID to ensure it can withstand the space environment. (Credits: Brian Walsh)

By Alison Gold
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — When you help build a satellite the size of a shoebox, you learn pretty much everything about it, says Emil Atz, a PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering at Boston University. You learn how to write a proposal to fund it, how to place the screws that hold it together, how to test each instrument to ensure it functions properly.

And then you learn how to say goodbye.

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AAC Clyde Space Expands to South Africa

UPPSALA, Sweden (AAC Clyde Space PR) — AAC Clyde Space, a leading New space company, today announced it has founded AAC Space Africa to capitalize on the rapidly growing market for satellites and space services in Africa. AAC Space Africa will design, build, and deliver space missions to the continent from its Cape Town base in South Africa’s Western Cape Province. The new subsidiary will also be the group’s centre of competence for advanced radio communication.

The new company will be managed by Dr Robert Van Zyl as Managing Director and Francois Visser as Technical Director. They bring more than 40 years of small satellite experience to the company, having pioneered the African CubeSat industry through several missions, including the first CubeSat launched by the continent.  Their expertise spans all facets of New space technologies, with a special focus on communications. 

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Thinking Outside the Cube: Engineers Developing Disk Shaped Satellites

DiskSat is a plate-shaped satellite (1 meter in diameter, 2.5 centimeters thick) that could provide the required power and aperture needed for future missions. (Credit: Aerospace Corporation)

In response to growing interest in capable SmallSats, a team of engineers and scientists are thinking outside the (CubeSat) box with DiskSat, a new circular satellite design.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — A defining feature of a standard CubeSat is its containerization—the shape, volume and design—which makes it rideshare-friendly. This quality was historically important since these devices comprised a minor part of the total payload. Containerization ensured that CubeSats could not endanger the launch vehicle or primary payload.

Now, Aerospace engineers and scientists have reevaluated whether the standard CubeSat may be the best shape for a mission.

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Arianespace’s Launches 5 Satellites on Vega Rocket

Vega lifts off on Aug. 16, 2021 (Credit: Arianespace)
  • On August 16, Arianespace launched the 19th Vega mission (VV19), its 7th successful launch of the year.
  • This launch orbited Pléiades Neo 4, the second very high-resolution satellite of the new Airbus Defence and Space’s Earth Observation satellite constellation.
  • Four innovative cubesats were also deployed for ESA and Unseenlabs.

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — On Monday, August 16, 2021 at 10:47 pm local time (01:47 am (UTC) on Thursday, August 17), a Vega launch vehicle operated by Arianespace lifted off successfully from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana (South America). This mission marked Arianespace’s 7th successful launch of the year and the second with Vega in 2021. It lasted one hour, 44 minutes and 59 seconds during which Pléiades Neo 4 separated on a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 625 km while the four auxiliary payloads separated at 551 kilometers.

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Arianespace’s 19th Vega Mission to Orbit Airbus Defence and Space’s Pléiades Neo 4 Earth Observation Satellite, 4 Scientific Auxiliary Spacecraft

Vega launches on April 28, 2021. (Credit: Arianespace)
  • Arianespace’s upcoming Vega launch, scheduled for August 16, 2021, will orbit Pléiades Neo 4, the second very high-resolution satellite part of the new Airbus Defence and Space’s Earth Observation constellation.
  • Vega Flight 19 (VV19) will also deploy four scientific spacecraft: three to the benefit of the European Space Agency (ESA) and one for the start-up Unseenlabs.

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — On Monday, August 16, 2021 at 10:47 pm local time (01:47 am (UTC) on Tuesday, August 17), Arianespace’s second Vega mission of the year will lift off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, with the optical observation satellite Pléiades Neo 4 and four auxiliary passengers.

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