A Look at NASA’s Plans to Explore the Moon

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

Statement of Jason Crusan
Director, Advanced Exploration Systems Division
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

before the

Subcommittee on Space
Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
U. S. House of Representatives

SELECTED EXCERPTS

Lunar CATALYST: Promoting Private Sector Robotic Exploration of the Moon

As part of the Agency’s overall strategy to conduct deep space exploration, NASA is also supporting the development of commercial lunar exploration. In 2014, NASA introduced an initiative called Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST). The purpose of the initiative is to encourage the development of U.S. private-sector robotic lunar landers capable of successfully delivering payloads to the lunar surface using U.S. commercial launch capabilities.

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India Suffers Launch Failure

PSLV-C37 booster (Credit: ISRO)

India suffered a launch failure today. Media reports indicate the payload shroud of a PSLV launch vehicle failed to separate as planned, leaving it and the payload inside in the wrong orbit.

The payload was the IRNSS 1H navigation satellite, which was the eighth spacecraft in the country’s Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System.

PSLV has flown 42 times with 39 successful flights, two failures and one partial failure. The first failure occurred on its maiden flight in September 1993. The partial failure occurred on its fourth flight in September 1997 when the booster launched a satellite into a lower-than-planned orbit.

Falcon 9, Minotaur IV Launches Set for Thursday & Friday

Three launches are scheduled for the week ahead, including a pair in the United States and one in India.

Falcon 9
Formosat 5 remote sensing satellite
Date: Thursday, Aug. 24
Time: 2:50-3:34 p.m. EDT; 11:50 a.m.-12:34 p.m. PDT (1850-1934 GMT)
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Minotaur IV
ORS 5
Date: Friday, Aug. 25
Time: 11:14 p.m.-3:15 a.m. EDT (0314-0715 GMT on Aug. 26)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

This marks the first flight of Orbital ATK’s Minotaur IV booster from Cape Canaveral. The payload, also known as SensorSat, is a military satellite that will scan for other spacecraft and orbital debris. ORS 5 was produced by the military’s Operationally Responsive Space program.

PSLV
IRNSS 1H navigation satellite
Date: Thursday, Aug. 31
Time: TBA
Launch Site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India

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Russia & China to Increase Space Cooperation

Tass reports that Russia and China plan to sign a cooperative agreement in the fall outlining increased cooperation across a range of space areas. Russia and China are also working to deepen cooperation with the BRICS nations, which include Brazil, India and South Africa.

As Glavkosmos explained, cooperation with Chinese partners envisages the following areas: the exploration of the Moon and outer space, space vehicles and ground infrastructure, hardware components and materials, the Earth’s remote sensing data.

Glavkosmos is also working with Chinese commercial partners on the issue of holding experiments aboard the International Space Station and providing the data of the Earth’s remote sensing from Russian satellites, the company said….

Specifically, Glavkosmos is holding preparations in Brazil for a tender for the delivery of space images to that country.

It was reported earlier that China was interested in buying the world’s most powerful Russian-made RD rocket engines produced by Energomash while Russian Space Systems showed interest in Chinese electronic components.

Russia and China are also working on making their GLONASS and BeiDou navigation satellite systems mutually complement each other and on installing adjusting ground-based stations on the territory of each other.

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India to Increase Booster Processing Capability

GSLV Mk III booster lifts off. (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO will be able to increase its annual launch output once a second vehicle assembly building is completed at the end of the year, an agency official said.

Talking to TOI, Isro chairman A S Kiran Kumar said, “Because of just one vehicle assembly building, final assembling of components (stages of rockets) was a bottleneck. Therefore, the second vehicle assembly building is being constructed. The work on the building is nearly complete and by the end of this year, it will become operational. With the new assembly facility, we will be able to assemble parallelly the launch vehicle and bring it to existing two launchpads. It will thus help boost the launch capability of the Sriharikota centre.”

On planning to build a third launchpad at Sriharikota Range (SHAR), a spindle-shaped island on the east coast of Andhra Pradesh, the Isro chairman said, “We have not reached the limit of two launchpads. With the new assembly facility, we will be able to assemble more vehicles. Once we are able to assemble more rockets but not able to launch them even by reducing launch timings, then we will start work on the third launchpad. But for that, we first need (government’s) approval. So, we are gradually working to eliminate all bottlenecks to increase the frequency of launches.” With the new facility, Isro can achieve launch 12 rockets in a year from the seven at present.

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House Appropriations Committee Boosts NASA’s Budget

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Ignoring the Trump’s Administration’s fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018) budget request, the House Appropriations Committee has voted to boost NASA’ spending to $19.88 billion, including significant increases to the space agency’s Exploration and Planetary Science programs.

The appropriations bill is an increase of $779.8 million over Trump’s requested budget of $19.09 billion. It would increase NASA’s budget by $218.5 million over the $19.65 billion the space agency is receiving in FY 2017.

NASA’s Exploration program, which includes the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft, would be boosted by $226 million to $4.55 billion under the House measure. The administration had requested $3.93 billion, a cut of $390 million under current spending.

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DARPA Seeks to Fly Experimental Satellite on Indian PSLV Booster

PSLV C38 mission launches (Credit: ISRO)

Frustrated over delays with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, DARPA is considering launching an innovative experimental satellite on India’s PSLV rocket, SpaceNews reports.

Jeremy Palmer, program manager for DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, told attendees at the Milsatcom USA conference that officials are hoping to launch the eXperiment for Cellular Integration Technology (eXCITe) satellite during the second half of fiscal year 2018, i.e., from April to September 2018.

The eXCITe spacecraft consists of 14 small satlets aggregated together into a single payload weighing 155 kg. The satlets, which are supplied by NovaWurks, have autonomous capabilities and are capable of operating individually or being aggregated into larger, more capable satellites.

eXCITe was originally scheduled to fly as a secondary payload aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9. It would have been deployed from a Spaceflight-supplied Sherpa payload dispenser, which aggregates smaller secondary payloads.

However, repeated slips in SpaceX’s launch schedule required Spaceflight to seek alternative rides to space for payloads that would have been deployed by the Sherpa dispenser.

DARPA would need a U.S. government waiver to fly eXCITe on the PSLV. The government has been granting an increasing number of waivers to American satellite manufacturers who say there is a shortage of domestic launch opportunities.

U.S. launch companies have pushed back agains the waivers, saying India’s PSLV and GSLV launchers are subsidized by the nation’s space agency, ISRO. A number of U.S. companies are developing launch vehicles specifically aimed at the small satellite market, but none has yet made a succesful flight to orbit.

 

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ISRO Launches Cartosat-2, 30 Secondary Payloads

PSLV C38 mission launches (Credit: ISRO)

BANGALORE (ISRO PR) — ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C38 successfully launched the 712 kg Cartosat-2 Series Satellite along with 30 co-passenger satellites today (June 23, 2017) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty ninth consecutively successful mission of PSLV.

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India’s Mars Orbiter Hits 1,000 Days at Mars

Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft attached to the 4th stage of PSLV-C25 and ready for heat shield closure. (Credit: ISRO)

BANGALORE, India (ISRO PR) — Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), the maiden interplanetary mission of ISRO, launched on November 5, 2013 by PSLV-C25 got inserted into Martian orbit on September 24, 2014 in its first attempt.  MOM completes 1000 Earth days in its orbit, today (June 19, 2017) well beyond its designed mission life of six months. 1000 Earth days corresponds to 973.24 Mars Sols (Martian Solar day) and MOM completed 388 orbits.

MOM is credited with many laurels like cost-effectiveness, short period of realisation, economical mass-budget, miniaturisation of five heterogeneous science payloads etc. Satellite is in good health and continues to work as expected. Scientific analysis of the data received from the Mars Orbiter spacecraft is in progress.

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Busy Launch Week Ahead: Japan, USA, Europe & India

Ariane 5 launch (Credit: Arianespace)

There is a busy week in launches ahead, with four flights planned from Japan, India, South America and the United States.

Thursday, June 1

H-2A
Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
Launch Time: 0020 GMT (8:30 p.m. EDT — May 31)

The booster will launch the Michibiki 2 navigation satellite, which is part of a constellation that will provide regional navigation services.

Falcon 9
LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Launch Time: 2155 GMT (5:55 p.m. EDT)

SpaceX will launch a Dragon resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA.

Ariane 5
ELA-3, Kourou, French Guiana
Launch Window: 2345-0045 GMT (7:45-8:45 p.m. EDT)

Arianespace will launch the ViaSat 2 and Eutelsat 172B communications satellites.

Monday, June 5

GSLV Mk.3
Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India
Launch Time: 1208 GMT (8:08 a.m. EDT)

ISRO has placed the GSAT 19E experimental communications satellite aboard the first orbital flight test of the nation’s largest booster.  The space agency conducted a suborbital test of the GSLV Mk. 3 in December 2014. The new rocket is capable of placing 8 metric tons into low Earth orbit and 4 metric tons to geosynchronous transfer orbit.

India to Prosecute Former ISRO Chairman

G. Madhavan Nair

India’s Central Bureau of Investigation said this week it is moving ahead with plans to prosecute former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair and seven others over a satellite transponder leasing deal signed in 2005 between Devas Multimedia and ISRO’s commercial arm, Antrix Corporation.

Under the now-voided agreement, Devas Multimedia would have paid $300 million to lease S band transponders on a pair of satellite paid for, built and launched by ISRO using public money.

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India Plans Mission to Venus

By Ultraviolet Imager (UVI), at around 2:19 p.m. on Dec. 7 (Japan Standard Time) at the Venus altitude of about 72,000 km. (Credit: JAXA)

After successful missions to the moon and Mars, ISRO is looking to send an orbiter to Venus.

The Indian space agency has issued an announcement of opportunity for proposals to send “novel space based experiments” on the mission.

“The payload capability of the proposed satellite is likely to be 175 kg with 500W of power,” the announcement states. “However these values are to be tuned based on the final configuration. The proposed orbit is expected to be around 500 x 60,000 km around Venus.  This orbit is likely to be reduced gradually, over several months to a lower apoapsis.”

The announcement does not indicate when the mission would be launched.

Report: Google Lunar XPrize Field Narrows

SpaceIL lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

It looks as if Team SpaceIL is out of the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize.

Quartz reports the Israeli team will not be able to launch its lander/rover to the moon aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster until some time next year — too late to meet the end-of-2017 deadline required to win the prize.

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