Canada’s Newest Astronauts Complete Basic Training

Canadian astronaut recruits Joshua Kutryk Jennifer_Sidey. (Credit: CSA)

Longueuil, Quebec, January 10, 2020 (CSA PR) – Today, Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronauts Jenni Sidey-Gibbons and Joshua Kutryk celebrated the end of their basic training, along with their NASA classmates, during a ceremony at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Their class was the first to be supervised by a Canadian astronaut, Jeremy Hansen.

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GAO: NASA Lunar Plans Lack Cost Estimate, Risk Integration Challenges

Artist’s conception of astronaut in an advanced spacesuit working on the moon. (Credit; NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In March, Vice President Mike Pence said the Trump Administration would use “any means necessary” to accomplish the goal of landing American astronauts on the moon by 2024.

Those means apparently did not include having NASA produce a cost estimate for the first landing mission known as Artemis III. And that has the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concerned.

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Germany Invests 3.3 Billion Euros in European Space Exploration, Becomes ESA’s Largest Contributor

  • Three years after the last ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level, held in Lucerne, Switzerland, government representatives from the 22 Member States met in Seville, Spain, on 27 and 28 November 2019 and committed a total of almost 14.4 billion euro [$15.87 billion] for space programmes over the next few years.
  • Germany is contributing 3.3 billion euro [$3.6 billion] to ESA programmes focusing on Earth observation, telecommunications, technological advancement and commercialisation / NewSpace.
  • At 22.9 percent, Germany is now ESA’s largest contributor, followed by France (18.5 percent, 2.66 billion euro), Italy (15.9 percent, 2.28 billion euro) and the United Kingdom (11.5 percent, 1.65 billion euro).
  • The ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level is the highest political decision-making body, and it defines the content and financial framework for ESA’s space programmes every two to three years.
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Italy Boosts Contribution to ESA Budget

SEVILLE, Spain (ASI PR) — In Seville, Spain, the institutional representatives and heads of the countries that make up the European Space Agency (ESA) have set the course towards new spatial horizons in the coming years. The share of the Italian contribution rises, while Samantha Cristoforetti will return to orbit.

An increase of almost one billion euros [$1.1 billion] compared to the previous Ministerial is what the Italian delegation to the ESA Ministerial Council 2019 has destined as a contribution of our country to the budget of the ESA for the next three to four years. 

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UK Invests in European Space Agency Programs

SEVILLE, Spain (UKSA PR) — The UK Space Agency has today (28 November) announced it will invest £374m [$411.75 million] per year with the European Space Agency (ESA) to deliver international space programmes over the next five years.

The UK is one of the founding members of ESA, an inter-governmental organisation established in 1975 to promote cooperation in space research, technology and applications development. ESA is independent of the EU, bringing together countries across Europe and around the world.

Membership enables the UK to collaborate with space agencies across the world on projects like the International Space Station and the ExoMars programme to send a UK-built rover to search for signs of life on Mars.

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ESA Ministers Commit to Biggest Ever Budget of $15.84 Billion

Credit: ESA

Ministers approved funding lunar Gateway, space station operations until 2030, Mars Sample Return and Hera asteroid missions

SEVILLE, Spain (ESA PR) — ESA’s Council at Ministerial Level, Space19+, has concluded in Seville, Spain, with the endorsement of the most ambitious plan to date for the future of ESA and the whole European space sector. The meeting brought together ministers with responsibility for space activities in Europe, along with Canada and observers from the EU.

The Member States were asked to approve a comprehensive set of programmes to secure Europe’s independent access to and use of space in the 2020s, boost Europe’s growing space economy, and make breakthrough discoveries about Earth, our Solar System and the Universe beyond, all the while making the responsible choice to strengthen the efforts we are making to secure and protect our planet.

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Advanced Electric Propulsion Thruster for NASA’s Gateway Achieves Full Power Demonstration

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Advanced Electric Propulsion System thruster demonstrates full power operation at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

PASADENA, Calif., Nov. 08, 2019 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA recently demonstrated an Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) thruster at full power for the first time, achieving an important program milestone. Aerojet Rocketdyne-developed AEPS thrusters are slated to be used on the Power and Propulsion Element of NASA’s Gateway, the agency’s orbiting lunar outpost for robotic and human exploration operations in deep space.

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Japan to Develop Gateway Habitat, Resupply Vehicles

Gateway with Orion over the Moon (Credit: ESA/NASA/ATG Medialab)

The Ashahi Shimbun reports that Japan has formally signed on to NASA’s lunar Gateway project with specific elements to develop.

Japan’s space agency plans to take charge of development of a habitation module and an unmanned logistics vehicle for the Gateway cislunar space station as part of an international project….

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) hopes to showcase the country’s excellence in technologies with an eye toward having a Japanese astronaut included in the lunar mission.

JAXA plans to work with its European counterpart to develop the habitation module by drawing on technologies it cultivated during the development and operation of the International Space Station’s Kibo experiment module, including one for recycling air and water aboard a spacecraft.

It also plans to take charge of resupplying goods using the HTV-X, a spacecraft under development as a successor to the Kounotori (HTV) unmanned transfer vehicle, seven units of which have been launched successfully.

Controlling Robots Across Oceans and Space

A prototype rover is commanded to drive in and sample a quarry resembling a lunar site. The image shows a virtual reality impression of the test. The rover is a key element of the ESA-led Heracles mission in cooperation with the Canadian Space Agency CSA and Japan’s JAXA space agency. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

PARIS (ESA PR) — This Autumn is seeing a number of experiments controlling robots from afar, with ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano directing a robot in The Netherlands and engineers in Germany controlling a rover in Canada.

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Senate Appropriators Boost NASA’s Budget by $1.25 Billion

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Senate Appropriations Committee PR) – The Senate Committee on Appropriations today approved the FY2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Act, which makes investments to support law enforcement, economic prosperity, scientific research, space exploration, and other national priorities.

The $70.833 billion measure is $6.715 billion above the FY2019 enacted level and funds the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and related agencies. 

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Backing Australian Business, Jobs for the US Moon to Mars Mission

NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard, second from left, shakes hands with Dr. Megan Clark, Head of the Australian Space Agency, second from right, as they pose for a photo with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, left, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, right, following the signing of a letter of intent between NASA and the Australian Space Agency, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 at NASA Headquarters in Washington. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

CANBERRA (Karen Andrews PR) — The Morrison Government is positioning Australia for lift-off with a $150 million [US $101.5 million] investment into our local businesses and new technologies that will support NASA on its inspirational campaign to return to the Moon and travel to Mars.

The five year investment will see the Australian Space Agency foster the new ideas and hi-tech skilled jobs that will make Australian businesses a partner of choice to fit out NASA missions.

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Australia to Support NASA’s Plan to Return to the Moon and on to Mars

WASHINGTON (Australian Space Agency PR) — The Australian Space Agency and NASA have launched a new partnership on future space cooperation. This includes the opportunity for Australia to join the United States’ Moon to Mars exploration approach, including NASA’s Artemis lunar program.

The Australian Government is investing $150 million [US $101.5 million] over five years for Australian businesses and researchers to join NASA’s endeavour, and deliver key capabilities for the mission. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the investment would benefit all Australians with more jobs, new technologies and more investment in businesses that would grow the economy.

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ISS Multilateral Coordination Board Endorses Lunar Gateway

Gateway with Orion over the Moon (Credit: ESA/NASA/ATG Medialab)

ISS Multilateral Coordination Board Joint Statement

The International Space Station (ISS) Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) met on August 6, 2019. Its members[1] acknowledged the recent 50th anniversary of the first human steps on the lunar surface during the Apollo 11 mission, praised the ongoing important work of the ISS, and discussed opportunities for the future of human exploration on and around the Moon and forward to Mars.  

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NASA’s Uncertain Path Back to the Moon

Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Nothing illustrates the changes wrought by the Trump Administration’s decision to move up the deadline for returning astronauts to the moon from 2028 to 2024 than a pair of contracts NASA awarded for the Lunar Gateway that will serve as a staging point for the landing.

In May, Maxar won a competitively awarded $375 million contract to build the Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element (PPE). NASA released a source selection statement that detailed how officials evaluated the five bids they received and why Maxar’s proposal was superior to the others.

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