NASA, Lockheed Martin Face Budget, Schedule Challenges with Low-Boom Supersonic Demonstrator

Illustration of the completed X-59 QueSST landing on a runway. (Credits: Lockheed Martin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s X-59 Low Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD) Project is progressing well toward its first flight test at the end of 2021 or early 2022 even though its cost has increased and schedule has slipped, according to a new audit by the space agency’s Office of Inspector General (IG). (Full Report)

The ambitious project will test designs and techniques for reducing the sonic booms caused supersonic aircraft. If successful, the research would allow a new generation of supersonic transports to fly over land rather than being confined to over-ocean travel as the now-retired Concorde airplane was it carried passengers from 1976 to 2003.

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NASA Selects Blue Origin Team to Develop Human Lunar Lander

Artist concept of the Blue Origin National Team crewed lander on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Today the Blue Origin National Team, which includes Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper, was selected by NASA to begin to develop the Artemis Human Landing System.

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A Closer Look at Lunar Landers Proposed by Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX

An astronaut descends the ladder to explore the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA announced that three U.S. companies will develop the human landers that will land astronauts on the Moon beginning in 2024 as part of the Artemis program. These human landers are the final piece of the transportation chain required for sustainable human exploration of the Moon, which includes the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, and the Gateway outpost in lunar orbit. 

The awardees for NASA’s Human Landing System contracts are Blue Origin of Kent, Washington, Dynetics (a Leidos company) of Huntsville, Alabama, and SpaceX of Hawthorne, California. These teams offered three distinct lander and mission designs, which will drive a broader range of technology development and, ultimately, more sustainability for lunar surface access. 

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Checkpoint Rehearsal From the Lens of NavCam 2

OSIRIS-REx approaches asteroid Bennu during rehearsal for sample return. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Captured on Apr. 14 during the first rehearsal of the OSIRIS-REx mission’s sample collection event, this series of images shows the navigation camera’s (NavCam 2) field of view as the NASA spacecraft approaches and moves away from asteroid Bennu’s surface.

The rehearsal brought the spacecraft through the first two maneuvers of the sampling sequence to a point approximately 213 feet (65 meters) above the surface, after which the spacecraft performed a back-away burn.

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DARPA Awards Contract to Lockheed Martin for Blackjack Program

SUNNYVALE, Calif – Apr. 27, 2020 – DARPA has awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) a $5.8 million contract for the first phase of satellite integration on the Blackjack program.  

Lockheed Martin will define and manage interfaces between Blackjack’s bus, payload and Pit Boss – its autonomous, space-based command and data processor. Additional scope includes testbed validation of internal and external vehicle interfaces. Program work will primarily be performed in Sunnyvale, California.

“Lockheed Martin has built and integrated a variety of payload types and sizes for every type of mission and we bring all of that experience to the Blackjack program,” said Sarah Reeves, vice president of Missile Defense Programs at Lockheed Martin. “This is an exciting new approach to plug-n-play design for LEO and we are up for the challenge.”

DARPA’s Blackjack program aims to develop and demonstrate the critical elements for a global high-speed network in low earth orbit (LEO) that provides the Department of Defense with highly connected, autonomous, resilient, and persistent coverage employing multiple payload types and missions. Future phases of Blackjack are expected to include build, test, and launch of a demonstration constellation in 2021-2022. 

For additional information, visit our website: www.lockheedmartin.com

About Lockheed Martin 

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 110,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. 

Space ISAC Launches New Website: S-ISAC.org

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (ISAC PR) – Conceived by the Science & Technology Partnership Forum in 2017 in response to recognized information-sharing gaps within the cybersecurity and space community, the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) was announced in April 2019 during a classified session at the 35th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, CO. The Space ISAC held its inaugural board meeting in November 2019.

Today, the Space ISAC unveils its new website, a new resource for collaboration to protect space missions and global space assets. The launch of this new website is an important milestone as the Space ISAC approaches initial operating capability and readies for the launch of its threat intelligence platform.

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Final Steps Underway To Operationalize Ultra-Secure, Jam-Resistant GPS M-Code Signal

Global Positioning System (Credit: DOT&E)

U.S. Space Force, Lockheed Martin upgrade Operations Control Segment (OCS) and refresh GPS constellation with new satellites

COLORADO SPRINGS, Co., Mar. 27, 2020 (Lockheed Martin PR) – The final steps to fully-enable the ultra-secure, jam-resistant Military Code (M-Code) signal on the Global Positioning System (GPS) are now underway.

As part of the U.S. military’s effort to modernize GPS, the U.S. Space Force has been steadily upgrading its existing GPS Ground Operational Control System (OCS). The Space Force recently announced Operational Acceptance of the GPS Contingency Operations (COps) upgrade, developed by Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT). COps enabled control of the operational GPS constellation, now containing 21 M-Code capable GPS satellites, including Lockheed Martin’s first two GPS III satellites, until the next generation OCX ground control system is delivered.

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Audit: NASA Making Progress With Artemis Software

The first Artemis rocket stage is guided toward NASA’s Pegasus barge Jan. 8 ahead of its forthcoming journey to NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credits: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has made progress in improving the development of software for flights of the Space Launch System (SLS) booster and Orion spacecraft that will take American astronauts back to the moon, according to a new audit from the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The software is on track to be ready for the first launch of SLS and an automated Orion capsule in 2021, the review found. However, challenges remain in the over budget and behind schedule effort.

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NASA Leadership Assessing Mission Impacts of Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2020 (NASA PR) — To protect the health and safety of the NASA workforce as the nation responds to coronavirus (COVID-19), agency leadership recently completed the first assessment of work underway across all missions, projects, and programs. The goal was to identify tasks that can be done remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work that must be performed on-site, and on-site work that will be paused.

“We are going to take care of our people. That’s our first priority,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Technology allows us to do a lot of what we need to do remotely, but, where hands-on work is required, it is difficult or impossible to comply with CDC guidelines while processing spaceflight hardware, and where we can’t safely do that we’re going to have to suspend work and focus on the mission critical activities.” 

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Hewson Steps Down at Lockheed Martin, James Taiclet Becomes New CEO

BETHESDA, Md., March 16, 2020 (Lockheed Martin PR) — The Board of Directors of Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has elected James D. Taiclet, 59, as president and CEO, effective June 15. Taiclet will continue to serve as a member of the corporation’s board, which he joined in 2018. He has served as chairman, president and CEO of American Tower Corporation since 2004 and CEO since 2003. During that time, American Tower grew significantly and increased its market capitalization from approximately $2 billion to approximately $100 billion. Taiclet guided the company’s transformation from a primarily U.S. business to a global player in its industry, with significant assets and operations in 19 countries. 

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Janus Satellite to Explore Binary Asteroid

NASA rendering of a Janus satellite rendezvousing with a binary asteroid. (Credit: NASA)

Janus: Reconnaissance Missions to Binary Asteroids

Launch Vehicle: SpaceX Falcon Heavy (secondary payload on Psyche mission)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Date: July 2022
NASA Program: Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx)

Description

Janus: Reconnaissance Missions to Binary Asteroids will study the formation and evolutionary implications for small “rubble pile” asteroids and build an accurate model of two binary asteroid bodies. A binary asteroid is a system of two asteroids orbiting their common center of mass.

The principal investigator is Daniel Scheeres at the University of Colorado. Lockheed Martin will provide project management.

SIMPLEx

Using small spacecraft – less than 400 pounds, or 180 kilograms, in mass – SIMPLEx selections will conduct stand-alone planetary science missions. Each will share their ride to space with either another NASA mission or a commercial launch opportunity.

Janus will be managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama as part of the Solar System Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Blue Moon Program Fact Sheet

Blue Moon crewed landing vehicle. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin released a fact sheet about its programs when it opened its new Huntsville manufacturing facility on Monday. Below is an excerpt on the company’s advanced development programs and Blue Moon lunar lander.

BLUE ORIGIN FACT SHEET

Advanced Development Programs

Blue Origin is developing advanced technologies to enable space exploration and development, including a NASA Tipping Point contract to mature cryogenic liquid propulsion for integrated large-scale lunar lander applications and several years of progress on the Blue Moon Lunar Lander and its BE-7 lunar landing engine.

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2019: A Busy Year in Suborbital Flight

Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable, suborbital rocket. (Credits: Blue Origin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Last year was a busy one for suborbital flights as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic conducted a combined four flights of their crewed suborbital vehicles. Despite hopes to the contrary, neither company flew paying tourists on their spaceships.

There were also 26 sounding rocket launches that carried scientific experiments and technology payloads above the atmosphere. The year saw:

  • Japanese startup Interstellar Technologies conduct a successful launch of its Momo commercial sounding rocket;
  • Texas-based Exos Aerospace continue to struggle with its reusable SARGE booster; and,
  • the first suborbital launch ever achieved by college students.
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Honeywell, Lockheed Martin To Provide Critical Components For NASA’s Orion Spacecraft

The Orion spacecraft with European Service Module undergoing environmental testing at NASA’s Plum Brook Station. (Credit: ESA–S. Corvaja)

CLEARWATER, Fla., Jan. 17, 2020 (Honeywell PR) — Honeywell (NYSE: HON) has been awarded a contract by Lockheed Martin to support production of NASA’s Orion spacecraft fleet for the upcoming Artemis missions, which will bring humans back to the moon for the first time since 1972.

The contract to supply key components of the Orion crew module and service module will be managed and performed out of Honeywell’s facility in Clearwater, Florida. Work will also be conducted at the company’s facilities in Glendale, Arizona, and Puerto Rico.

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Collins Aerospace Signs $320 Million Contract to Provide Critical Subsystems for NASA’s Orion Spacecraft

Orion and European Service Module orbiting the Moon. (Credit NASA/ESA/ATG Medialab)

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (Collins Aerospace PR) – Collins Aerospace Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), has signed a contract with Lockheed Martin to provide critical subsystems to support production of NASA’s Orion spacecraft fleet for Artemis missions III through VIII.

Valued at $320 million, the systems being provided by Collins Aerospace will play an important role in enabling NASA’s goal of boots on the Moon by 2024, as well as establishing a sustained presence on and around the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars.

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