Nine Ways We Use AR and VR on the International Space Station

Credit: NASA

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Even the most highly trained and experienced person sometimes needs a hand. For astronauts aboard the International Space Station, that helping hand comes from other crew members, experts on the ground, and increasingly, in the form of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

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SSTL Signs Up ESA as Anchor Customer for Lunar Pathfinder Communications Relay Satellite

Lunar Pathfinder satellite (Credit: Surrey Satellite)

LONDON, September 15, 2021 (SSTL PR) — The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed a contract with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) for communications services from Lunar Pathfinder, due to launch in 2024.  The Commercial Lunar Mission Support Services contract was signed between ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration, Dave Parker, and SSTL’s Managing Director, Phil Brownnett, on 15 September 2021 at The Royal Society in London.  Amanda Solloway, UK Government Science Minister, Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director General, Paul Bate, Director of the UK Space Agency, and SSTL’s Executive Chairman, Sir Martin Sweeting were also in attendance. 

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NASA Provides Laser for LISA Mission

The first prototype of a laser sits on a testbed at the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), headquartered in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. CSEM will test and characterize the laser, which will be used to conduct gravitational wave experiments in space for the LISA mission. (Credits: European Space Agency/CSEM)

By Karl B. Hille
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Greenbelt, Md. — Finding the biggest collisions in the universe takes time, patience, and super steady lasers.

In May, NASA specialists working with industry partners delivered the first prototype laser for the European Space Agency-led Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA, mission. This unique laser instrument is designed to detect the telltale ripples in gravitational fields caused by the mergers of neutron stars, black holes, and supermassive black holes in space.

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Next Generation of Orion Spacecraft in Production for Future Artemis Missions

Now complete, the crew module pressure vessel for Artemis III will be shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the team will start integrating the spacecraft’s systems and subsystems. Photo taken August 27, 2021. (Credits: NASA/Eric Bordelon)

NEW ORLEANS (NASA PR) — Over the next decade, NASA’s Orion spacecraft will carry astronauts during Artemis missions to the Moon to help prepare for human missions to Mars. Work on the spacecraft for Artemis I is nearly complete, Artemis II is well underway, and NASA is making progress on vehicles for the missions beyond.

The agency recently completed welding on the Artemis III Orion pressure vessel, the underlying frame of the air-tight capsule for astronauts called the crew module. This structure is the first major piece of hardware in Orion’s production phase with lead contractor Lockheed Martin.

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Commercialisation of the Space Sector: What Can ESA Do in Europe?

Josef Aschbacher (Credit: ESA–Philippe Sebirot, 2016)

by Josef Aschbacher
Director General
European Space Agency

There is no need to point out the importance of commercialisation in the space sector. It has been implemented and visibly demonstrated in all corners of the world. The commercialisation of space has entered a new dimension with the digital sector massively investing in the space sector, giving it the attention, credibility, funding and even celebrity the American space industry needed to grow colossally and at a very quick pace. Its success set off a ripple effect overseas, encouraging similar investments in space industries in Japan, China, India, UAE, to name a few. Around the globe, countries have been further encouraged to heavily invest in space after being woken up to the great economic, societal and strategic benefit potential the sector promises.

Certainly, the US has led the way more than a decade ago, but today basically every country puts a huge emphasis on putting the commercial sector into the driving seat for “NewSpace” projects, however you may wish to define NewSpace.

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NASA, SpaceX Continue Planning for Next Crew Rotation Missions to International Space Station

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured after undocking from the forward port on the Harmony module beginning its short trip to the space-facing port. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX are continuing plans to launch Crew-3 astronauts to the International Space Station as early as Sunday Oct. 31, and targeting the return home of Crew-2 astronauts in the early-to-mid November timeframe.

Crew-3 will be the third crew rotation mission with astronauts on an American rocket and spacecraft from the United States to the space station, and the fourth flight with astronauts, including the Demo-2 test flight in 2020, Crew-1 mission in 2020-21, and the ongoing Crew-2 flight as part of the Expedition 65 crew.

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DLR Lampoldshausen Makes the P5 Test Stand Fit for the Engine Technologies of the Future

Installation of the methane tank in the ESA test stand P5. [Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)]
  • The DLR is strengthening and modernizing its test infrastructure at the Lampoldshausen site with the renovation and expansion of the ESA large test bench P5.
  • The installation of a methane tank is an important milestone.
  • This means that tests of rocket propulsion systems with the fuel combination of liquid oxygen and methane will also be possible in the future.
  • The commissioning of the converted ESA test bench P5 is planned for 2022.

LAMPOLDSHAUSEN, Germany (DLR PR) — The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is making a central component of its extensive test infrastructure fit for the future: It expands the ESA large test bench P5 at the DLR site in Lampoldshausen. In this way, the next generation of space propulsion systems can also be tested flexibly and reliably.

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ESA Council Agrees Resolution on Ariane 6 and Vega-C Exploitation and Future Space Transportation

Artist’s view of the European launcher family. Shown from left to right: Ariane 5, Vega, the two-booster Ariane 6 (A62), Vega-C, the four-booster Ariane 6 (A64). (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Member States have agreed upon the boundary conditions for Europe’s upcoming exploitation of Ariane 6 and Vega-C and request ESA to propose a roadmap for new and innovative space transportation solutions for the next decade and a framework for associated short cycle demonstrations.

The Resolution agreed upon by ESA Member States mid-August sets the conditions for the first three years of stabilised exploitation of Europe’s new launch vehicles, Ariane 6 and Vega-C at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. 

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Isar Aerospace Opens Payloads Slots for First Two Spectrum Rocket Launches

Spectrum rocket

Isar Aerospace Announcement

In April this year, we won the national micro launcher competition #Boost! With a funding of 11M€ for the first two flights of its Spectrum [rocket] by Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie and  Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt e.V., Isar Aerospace will offer launch opportunities for institutional payloads of up to 150 kg total mass each flight.

Today, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt e.V., European Space Agency – ESA and Isar Aerospace published the Announcement of Opportunity, which is to pre-select the payloads for our first test flight and to identify candidate spacecraft for the second flight of the Spectrum launch vehicle. It is open to any European institutional satellite customer of launch services. Application closes on Oct. 31, 2021.

Link to the full document with all details in English and German:

English — https://lnkd.in/dihvuaJW
German — https://lnkd.in/dswZy4Cv

Researchers Successfully Biomine Vanadium Aboard the Space Station

Preflight fluorescence microscopy image of biofilm of Spingomonas desiccabilis growing over and into the surface of a basalt slide as part of Biorock experiment. Organisms are stained with DNA binding dye, Sybr Gold. Growth can be seen into the rock cavities. (Credits: ESA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — For centuries, humans have mined materials to build the tools we use every day, from batteries and cell phones to airplanes and refrigerators. While the process of obtaining these important minerals used to rely entirely on heavy machinery, fire, and human labor, scientists have learned how to harness the natural power of microbes to do some of the work.

This process, called biomining, has become common as a cost efficient and environmentally friendly way to obtain the metals around us in nature. As humans plan expeditions deeper into space, biomining offers a way to obtain needed materials for use on other planetary bodies rather than transporting them from Earth.

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Cargo Dragon Docks with International Space Station

Credit: NASA

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — While the International Space Station was traveling about 260 miles over the Western Australia, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the forward-facing port of the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module at 10:30 a.m. EDT, Monday, Aug. 30. Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitored operations.

Among the science experiments Dragon is delivering to the space station are:

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Has Completed Testing

Fully assembled and fully tested, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has completed its primary testing regimen and will soon begin shipment preparations. (Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn)

By Thaddeus Cesari
​NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — After successful completion of its final tests, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is being prepped for shipment to its launch site.

Engineering teams have completed Webb’s long-spanning comprehensive testing regimen at Northrop Grumman’s facilities. Webb’s many tests and checkpoints were designed to ensure that the world’s most complex space science observatory will operate as designed once in space.

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Bright Ascension Completes Fund Raising for Development of End To End Space Software Product Suite

DUNDEE, UK, August, 23, 2021 (Bright Ascension PR) — Bright Ascension Ltd ., an industry leading space software technology provider, is pleased to announce that it has successfully completed a fund raising round and secured financing commitments through private investments to support further expansion and development of its product offering. The company has raised £1m of additional equity through the issue of new shares to match development funding that has been awarded to Bright Ascension by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Bright Ascension will use the new funds for the development of next generation satellite software infrastructure, which will offer its customers a complete end to end software solution for space based service provision. This expansion stage c losely correlates to the company’s participation in ESA ARTES Pioneer programme, a multi year project set to design and develop a cutting edge end to end solution which will enable a wide range of companies to create innovative satellite constellation services at a significantly reduced cost and within a reduced timeframe.

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ESA Busy Reviewing 23,000 Applications for Astronaut Jobs

Credit: ESA

PARIS (ESA PR) — Astronaut hopefuls are being asked for their patience as ESA processes over 23 000 applications to its Astronaut and Astronaut (with a disability) vacancies. This number far exceeds the Agency’s most optimistic forecasts.

Head of space medicine at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre (EAC) Guillaume Weerts is part of the team leading the astronaut selection. He says the number of applications is a positive indication of the level of interest in space activities in Europe, but it will take some time to work through.

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