Thales Alenia Space Invests in Advanced Technology for Human Spaceflight

The new Friction Stir Welding facility will double the production capacity of pressurized modules

TURIN, 25 November 2021 (Thales Alenia Space PR)  –– Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%, has inaugurated a new Friction Stir Welding facility at one of its production sites in Turin, which will double production capacity of pressurized modules, for the production of the future orbiting and surface infrastructures.

The only company in Europe to use this type of processing for pressurized habitation modules, Thales Alenia Space introduced friction welding technology in 2015, with a first operating facility used for the production of Cygnus, the pressurized cargo modules for the refueling of the International Space Station, an extremely complex type of structure, which enables exploration and human space flight.

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JAXA to Recruit New Astronauts

Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide poses for a photo after undergoing a generic blood draw in the European Laboratory/Columbus Orbital Facility (COF). (Credits: NASA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced that the activities of Japanese astronauts will be expanded to the International Space Station (ISS), the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo”, the lunar orbiting manned base “Gateway”, and the surface of the moon. Assuming, we are looking for new astronaut candidates as follows.

We are waiting for applications from various people who want to contribute to humankind and society through the important role of astronauts who create the future.

Application acceptance periodFrom December 20, 2021 (Monday) to March 4, 2022 (Friday)
Number of hiresMultiple
Application RequirementsPosted on the special site for recruiting astronaut candidates
https://astro-mission.jaxa.jp/astro_selection/item/Application.pdf
Selection result announcementThe final selection results will be announced around February 2023.

NASA Seeks Commercial Spacesuit Services Proposals

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. NASA’s Artemis mission will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Artemis moonwalkers exploring the lunar South Pole will wear revolutionary spacesuits that stand up to the Moon’s harsh environment and keep them safe. NASA is embracing commercial partnerships to optimize spacesuit technology and inspire pioneering in the space market.

NASA published a request for proposal (RFP) Sept. 29  for companies to compete for the agency’s future purchase of spacesuits and support services for spacewalks on the International Space Station, during Artemis lunar surface missions, and as needed on Gateway in lunar orbit. 

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Gateway Vehicle Systems Management Demonstration Completed

Illustration of NASA’s lunar-orbiting Gateway and a human landing system in orbit around the Moon. (Credit: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — The Advanced Exploration Systems’ (AES) Autonomous Systems and Operations (ASO) team, including members from NASA Ames’ Intelligent Systems Division, developed and demonstrated new technologies designed to automate the operation of Gateway, a key element of the Artemis mission. (Gateway will be an outpost orbiting the Moon that provides vital support for a long-term human return to the lunar surface, as well as a staging point for deep space exploration.)

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ASI and Qascom to Bring Italy and Galileo Navigation System to the Moon

Photo of Mare Crisium taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Credit: NASA)

ROME (ASI PR) — Finding the best route for lunar orbit and easy parking on the Moon is the goal of NEIL (Navigation Early Investigation on Lunar surface) GNSS receiver with Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology. The creation of NEIL, named in honor of Neil Armstrong, the first man to touch the lunar soil, is at the center of an agreement between the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and NASA linked to the CLPS 19-D mission (NASA missions with contributions commercial and private of an experimental nature) with which the American space agency has planned to land with a lander in the Mare Crisium basin in 2023. [Editor’s Note: This is Firefly Aerospace’s Blue Ghost lander mission.]

NEIL, subject of the contract signed between ASI and the company Qascom SRL, is the on-board payload that will be an integral part of the experiment called Lunar GNSS Receiver Experiment  (LuGRE), defined in the ASI/NASA agreement, which aims to develop an activity in a lunar and cislunar environment.

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NASA IG Says: Lunar Spacesuits Behind Schedule, Would Not be Ready for 2024 Landing

Artemis and Orion spacesuits. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s 14-year effort to build lunar suits is going to consume more than $1 billion and will deliver working products after the space agency’s goal of landing two astronauts at the moon south pole in 2024, according to a new audit from NASA’s Inspector General.

“NASA’s current schedule is to produce the first two flight-ready xEMUs by November 2024, but the Agency faces significant challenges in meeting this goal,” the report said. “This schedule includes approximately a 20-month delay in delivery for the planned design, verification, and testing suit, two qualification suits, an ISS Demo suit, and two lunar flight suits.

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Mission Critical AEPS Thruster Completes Development Testing for NASA’s Lunar Gateway

Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) thruster recently completed development testing. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

August 9, 2021 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) thruster that will be employed on the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) for NASA’s international lunar Gateway recently completed development testing. The next milestone for the program will be the PPE Preliminary Design Review in October. Three 12 kilowatt (kW) AEPS thrusters will serve as the primary source of propulsion on the PPE to enable orbit transfer and in-space maneuvering.

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CAPSTONE’s CubeSat Prepares for Lunar Flight

The CAPSTONE team performs the full mission rehearsal of the propulsion hardware, with the qualification unit located in middle of the test stand. First, the propulsion tank is fueled with hydrazine propellant which requires the specialized protection for the operator (Level A encapsulated suits provide breathing and vapor protection for the Stellar engineers, Andrew Carlson and Sean Liston). Once the tank is filled with propellant, the full mission sequence is executed using the simulated satellite avionics and software. (Credits: Stellar Exploration)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Small spacecraft will play a big role in lunar exploration, including a Moon-bound CubeSat launching later this year.

The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, mission team is making the final preparations for the spacecraft that will make CubeSat history over a series of technological and operational firsts for the small platform. 

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MDA Awarded Next Contract for Flagship Canadarm3 Program

An artist’s concept of Canadarm3’s large arm on the Lunar Gateway. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)

MDA receives $35.3 million [US $28.1 million] contract for long-lead Gateway External Robotics Interfaces as part of multi-year, multi-phase $billion+ program

BRAMPTON, Ont. (MDA PTR) — MDA Ltd. (TSX:MDA), a leading provider of advanced technology and services to the rapidly-expanding global space industry, today announced that it has been awarded a $35.3 million [US $28.1 million] contract from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for the design of the Gateway External Robotics Interfaces (GERI), a key component of Canadarm3 which will be installed on the international Lunar Gateway.

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NASA, Northrop Grumman Finalize Moon Outpost Living Quarters Contract

Artist’s concept of the Gateway Power and Propulsion Element, or PPE, and Habitation and Logistics Outpost, or HALO, in orbit around the Moon. The gold box on the right side of the image depicts the HERMES payload. The ERSA payload is the silver box just below it. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and Northrop Grumman of Dulles, Virginia, have finalized a contract to develop the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) for Gateway, which will be a critical way station and outpost in orbit around the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program.

NASA and its commercial and international partners are building Gateway to support science investigations and enable surface landings at the Moon, which will help prepare astronauts for future missions to Mars.

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Launch 2020: A Year of Transition for Japan

The United Arab Emirates’ Hope Probe took off at 2:58 p.m. PDT on July 19 from a launch site in Japan, headed for Mars to study its atmosphere. (Credit: MHI Launch Services via YouTube)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a typical year for Japan with four successful launches and no failures. Japan has averaged 3.8 launches annually over the past decade. Last year also saw a Japanese astronaut become the first foreigner to fly aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

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QUT and MDA to Develop Robot for Space Application

BRAMPTON, Ont. (MDA PR) — QUT robotics researchers will join the push to take humanity back to the Moon in designing and demonstrating a logistics robot for space application.

Researchers from QUT’s Centre for Robotics will partner with Canadian-based space technology company MDA and Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth in designing a logistics robot prototype that may be used inside the International Space Station (ISS) or the Lunar Gateway.

The Lunar Gateway, a collaborative project involving NASA, the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, will serve as a rendezvous point for astronauts on missions to the surface of the Moon and as a springboard for robotic and human expeditions on to Mars.

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JAXA, Honda to Begin a Feasibility Study on Circulative Renewable Energy System for Lunar Outposts, Rovers

Conceptual pressurized crewed lunar rover. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA/Honda PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Honda R&D Co., Ltd. (Honda) today announced the plan to begin a joint feasibility study on a “circulative renewable energy system” in space, which is designed to supply oxygen, hydrogen, and electricity for human outposts and rovers. JAXA and Honda have been conducting a joint research on this system to create an environment in space where people can stay and conduct activities over an extended period of time.

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NASA Space Technology Budget Request Fact Sheet

NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

NASA FACT SHEET
FY 2022 Budget Request
Space Technology
($ Millions)

The Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) develops transformative, cross-cutting technologies that lead to research and technology breakthroughs to enable NASA’s missions and is broadening its focus on cross-cutting space technologies that will support creating good jobs in a growing space industry.

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NASA Artemis Program Faces Significant Challenges on Human Lunar Landing in 2024

Artist concept of the SpaceX Starship on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The combination of an ambitious schedule, technical challenges and immature technology will make it difficult for NASA to meet its goal of landing two astronauts on the moon in 2024, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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