DARPA Selects Performers for Phase 1 of Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) Program

Credit: DARPA

Industry teams to develop propulsion design, spacecraft concepts for demonstrating on-orbit Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) system

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA has awarded contracts for the first phase of the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program. The goal of the DRACO program is to demonstrate a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system above low Earth orbit in 2025. The three prime contractors are General Atomics, Blue Origin, and Lockheed Martin.

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Report: Biden to Retain National Space Council

NASA’s Orion spacecraft that flew Exploration Flight Test-1 on Dec. 5, 2014 is seen on the South Lawn of the White House, Sunday, July 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. Lockheed Martin, NASA’s prime contractor for Orion, began manufacturing the Orion crew module in 2011 and delivered it in July 2012 to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where final assembly, integration and testing was completed. More than 1,000 companies across the country manufactured or contributed elements to the spacecraft. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Politico reports that the Biden Administration will retain the National Space Council. The council was revived by the Trump Administration in 2017 to coordinate national space activities after a 24-year gap in operation.

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U.S. Space Force Awards $280 Million Contract Extension to Bluestaq for Unified Data Library

Work will significantly increase the scope of the Unified Data Library

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Bluestaq PR) – Bluestaq LLC today announced a two-year, $280M extension to its current Advanced Command and Control Enterprise Systems and Software (ACCESS) contract by the General Services Administration (GSA). This contract modification will allow Bluestaq to continue the development and data integration of the Unified Data Library (UDL) for the US Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center Data Program Management Office.

This award follows Bluestaq’s 2019 $37 million GSA Phase III SBIR contract award to integrate data supporting Space and Air and Multi-domain operations. In support of Space Force operations, Bluestaq will continue to build a secure, modern data management platform from a wide range of sources spanning commercial, Department of Defense (DoD), and the United States Intelligence Community (IC).

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DoD Inspector General to Investigate Decision to Locate US Space Command Headquarters n Huntsville

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General has announced an investigation into the U.S. Air Force’s controversial decision to locate U.S. Space Command’s headquarters at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.

In a letter to the U.S. Air Force secretary, the office said it would investigate whether the decision process:

  • “complied with DoD and Air Force policies during the location selection process;
  • used objective and relevant scoring factors to rank the six candidate locations; and
  • calculated the cost and other scoring factors accurately and consistently among the six candidate locations.”
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Virgin Orbit to Launch First Satellite for Dutch Ministry of Defense

Virgin Orbit Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 takes off from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

LONG BEACH, Calif., January 25, 2021 (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit, the California-based satellite launch company, announced today that it has been selected by the Dutch space engineering company Innovative Solutions in Space (ISIS) to launch the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s (RNLAF) first ever satellite, a 6U CubeSat called BRIK-II.

Designed and integrated by ISIS, BRIK-II will serve as a testbed for various communications experiments and demonstrate how nanosatellites can provide a meaningful contribution to military operations. The mission represents a significant step forward for the Dutch Ministry of Defense’s efforts to develop their first space capabilities, with a particular emphasis on responsive launch.

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Statement from the Press Secretary Regarding Small Modular Reactors for National Defense and Space Exploration

Credit: Matt Wade

WASHINGTON, January 12, 2021 (White House PR) — Today, President Trump is issuing an Executive Order on Promoting Small Modular Reactors for National Defense and Space Exploration, which will further revitalize the United States nuclear energy sector, reinvigorate America’s space exploration program, and produce diverse energy options for national defense needs.

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Lockheed Martin Wins $4.9 Billion Contract for 3 Missile Warning Satellites

The Pentagon has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth $4.9 billion to build three Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared satellites to warn of incoming missiles.

The contract also covers “delivery of ground mission unique software and ground sensor processing software. Additionally, this modification includes engineering support for launch vehicle integration and launch and early on-orbit checkout for all three” spacecraft for the U.S. Space Force.

“Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, California, and is expected to be completed May 31, 2028.  Fiscal 2021 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $99,000,000 are being obligated at the time of award,” the Pentagon said in its announcement.

Small Satellite Leader Blue Canyon Technologies Completes CDR for DARPA Blackjack Program

BCT demonstrated maturity and capability of its X-SAT bus design which will enhance LEO communications for the U.S. Department of Defense

BOULDER, Colo. (Blue Canyon Technology PR) — Leading small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies, Inc. (“BCT” or “Blue Canyon”) announced today that it has completed its critical design review (CDR) for the Blackjack Program, a military space capabilities demonstration being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

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NASA Supports America’s National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion

Illustration of a Mars transit habitat and nuclear propulsion system that could one day take astronauts to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — President Donald Trump has issued a new Space Policy Directive that will help propel NASA and humanity’s next giant leap – creating a sustainable presence on the Moon and sending astronauts to Mars.

The president issued Space Policy Directive-6 (SPD-6), the Nation’s Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion (SNPP), Wednesday, Dec. 16. Space nuclear systems power spacecraft for missions where alternative power sources are inadequate, such as environments that are too dark for solar power or too far away to carry sufficient quantities of chemical fuels.

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Memorandum on the National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion (Space Policy Directive-6)

Illustration of a Mars transit habitat and nuclear propulsion system that could one day take astronauts to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

Space Policy Directive-6

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

SUBJECT: National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power
and Propulsion

Section 1. Policy. The ability to use space nuclear power and propulsion (SNPP) systems safely, securely, and sustainably is vital to maintaining and advancing United States dominance and strategic leadership in space. SNPP systems include radioisotope power systems (RPSs) and fission reactors used for power or propulsion in spacecraft, rovers, and other surface elements. SNPP systems can allow operation of such elements in environments in which solar and chemical power are inadequate. They can produce more power at lower mass and volume compared to other energy sources, thereby enabling persistent presence and operations. SNPP systems also can shorten transit times for crewed and robotic spacecraft, thereby reducing radiation exposure in harsh space environments.

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Chief of Space Operations Discusses Need for Outreach to Partners, State of Space Force

 

Gen. John “Jay” Raymond. Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force, Commander, U.S. Space Command, provides remarks at the USSPACECOM Change of Command. (Credit: Lewis Carlyle)

By Jim Garamone
DOD News

The importance of space to the modern world cannot be underestimated, and the U.S. Space Force will be key to defending the ultimate “high ground,” said Space Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, the chief of space operations for the new service.

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Winners Announced for US/UK Partnered International Space Pitch Day

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USSF SMC PR) –  U.S Space Force’s Space And Missile Systems Center,  (SMC) along with its partners have announced the winners of International Space Pitch Day (ISPD). Small tech companies and start-ups from multiple countries had the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of several U.S., U.K. and N.A.T.O. allied defense leaders on Nov. 16, 2020.

During the event, ten start-ups successfully secured same-day contracts and a slice of the $1M pot, to fast-track the development of their innovations. This marks the first time two nations have come together to award defense contracts based around a pitch-style event and the first time two nations have awarded joint defense innovation contracts to foreign companies.

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Astrobotic & University of Pittsburgh’s SHREC Partnering for Space Technologies Research

Teams will work together to translate concepts into tangible innovations that will support lunar landings, rover missions, satellite servicing, and more.

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC) are pleased to announce a partnership to develop new software and hardware technologies for future space applications.

The SHREC consortium, led by the University of Pittsburgh, is an NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) and will work together with Astrobotic by pairing first-class academic researchers with engineering teams to translate concepts into tangible innovations that will support lunar landings, rover missions, satellite servicing, and more.

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NGA Adds BlackSky Global, Planet Federal Imagery to Unclassified Delivery System

SPRINGFIELD, Va. (NGA PR) – The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s primary unclassified delivery system now features small satellite commercial imagery, enabling federal government and international partners increased access to geospatial data to meet mission demands. 

The G-EGD system, first introduced in 2011, consisted of only of MAXAR/Digital Globe imagery, but the addition of Planet Federal and BlackSky Global data represents the first time that small satellite imagery has been integrated into the delivery system.

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