Ozmens’ SNC Selected for NASA Tipping Point Contract for Groundbreaking Technology to Produce Oxygen on Moon

Oxygen is locked in lunar regolith (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev.,  November 17, 2020 — Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader owned by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, has been selected for a contract as part of NASA’s Tipping Point solicitation to further develop its carbothermal reduction process, which harvests oxygen from minerals on the surface of the Moon. 

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DES­TINY+ – Ger­many and Japan Be­gin New As­ter­oid Mis­sion

Destiny spacecraft (Credit: JAXA/Kashikagaku)
  • In 2024, the Japanese-German space mission DESTINY+ will launch on a journey to asteroid 3200 Phaethon.
  • The mission’s key instrument is the German DESTINY+ Dust Analyzer (DDA), which will collect and analyse cosmic dust samples during the entire flight of the spacecraft.
  • The cooperation agreement for the bilateral mission was signed by DLR and JAXA on 11 November 2020 as part of a joint strategy dialogue meeting.

COLOGNE (DLR PR) — How did life arrive on Earth? To investigate this and to address fundamental questions about the evolution of celestial bodies in our Solar System, the Japanese-German space mission DESTINY+  (Demonstration and Experiment of Space Technology for  INterplanetary voYage with Phaethon fLyby and dUst Science), will launch in 2024 on a journey to asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

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Kennedy to Partner with Previous NASA Challenge Winner for Lunar Research

Team AI SpaceFactory’s printer autonomously inserts a window into their 3D-printed subscale habitat structure at NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, held at the Caterpillar Edwards Demonstration & Learning Center in Edwards, Illinois, May 1-4, 2019. (Credits: NASA/Emmett Given)

By Leejay Lockhart
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Building structures on other planets is challenging for many reasons, including that it is difficult to send supplies from Earth. Typical construction materials such as concrete and steel are too heavy and bulky to launch on a rocket to the Moon and especially Mars. A solution to that problem is using local materials already at the destination.

AI SpaceFactory – an architectural and construction technology company and winner of NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge – will collaborate with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to mature new planetary construction technologies. NASA announced the partnership, and 19 others across the agency, under the 2020  Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity (ACO).

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Crew-1 Heads to Space Station to Conduct Microgravity Science

NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, left, Victor Glover, second from left, Mike Hopkins, second from right, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, right, are introduced by Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana after arriving at the Launch and Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center ahead of SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Expedition 1 and Crew-1. These historic International Space Station missions lifting off 20 years apart share the same goals: advancing humanity by using the space station to learn how to explore farther than ever before, while also conducting research and technology demonstrations benefiting life back on Earth.

Crew-1, made up of NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Mike Hopkins, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, continues the legacy of two decades of living and working in low-Earth orbit by becoming space scientists for the next six months.

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ESA Welcomes Positive Review of Plan to Bring Mars to Earth

Artist’s impression of ESA’s Earth Return Orbiter. (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — An ambitious campaign by NASA and ESA to collect samples from the Red Planet and return them to Earth has been praised by an Independent Review Board set up to review the multi-year Mars missions.

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Biden Appoints Ellen Stofan to Lead NASA Agency Review Team

Ellen Stofan (Credit: Smithsonian Institution)
  • Former astronaut Pam Melroy and Kathryn Sullivan also named to review teams
  • Former XPRIZE vice president leads OSTP team

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

President-elect Joe Biden has appointed former NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan to lead the review team assigned to the space agency.

Stofan, a planetary scientist who became the first female director of the National Air and Space Museum in 2018, leads an eight-member team that includes former NASA astronaut Pam Melroy and former NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati.

Biden has also appointed Kathryn Sullivan, who was part of the first group of women recruited as NASA astronauts, to serve on the agency review team for the Department of Commerce.

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NASA and SpaceX Complete Certification of First Human-Rated Commercial Space System

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Resilience for NASA SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission are seen inside the SpaceX Hangar at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 9, 2020, before rollout to Launch Pad 39A. (Credits: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Years of design, development, and testing have culminated in NASA officially certifying the first commercial spacecraft system in history capable of transporting humans to and from the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA completed the signing of the Human Rating Certification Plan Tuesday for SpaceX’s crew transportation system after a thorough Flight Readiness Review ahead the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission with astronauts to the space station.

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Independent Review Indicates NASA Prepared for Mars Sample Return Campaign

This illustration shows a concept of how the NASA Mars Ascent Vehicle, carrying tubes containing rock and soil samples, could be launched from the surface of Mars in one step of the Mars sample return mission. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA released an independent review report Tuesday indicating the agency is now ready to undertake its Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign to bring pristine samples from Mars to Earth for scientific study. The agency established the MSR Independent Review Board (IRB) to evaluate its early concepts for a groundbreaking, international partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) to return the first samples from another planet.

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NASA to Work with Industry to Mature Green Propulsion, Advanced Materials, Space Robots and More

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 17 U.S. companies for 20 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies for the Moon and beyond through the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s 2020 Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity (ACO).

The selected proposals are relevant to technology topic areas outlined in the solicitation, including cryogenic fluid management and propulsion; advanced propulsion; sustainable power; in-situ propellant and consumable production; intelligent/resilient systems and advanced robotics; advanced materials and structures; entry, descent, and landing; and small spacecraft technologies.

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New NASA Partnerships to Mature Commercial Space Technologies, Capabilities

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected  17 U.S. companies for 20 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies for the Moon and beyond. The NASA and industry teams will design a 3D printing system for NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program, test a simple method for removing dust from planetary solar arrays, mature a first-stage rocket recovery system for a small satellite launch provider, and more.

Various NASA centers will work with the companies, ranging from small businesses and large aerospace companies to a previous NASA challenge winner, to provide expertise and access to the agency’s unique testing facilities. The partnerships aim to accelerate the development of emerging space capabilities.

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The Propulsion We’re Supplying, It’s Electrifying

A solar electric propulsion Hall Effect thruster being tested under vacuum conditions at NASA. (Credits: NASA)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — Since the beginning of the space program, people have been captivated by big, powerful rockets—like NASA’s Saturn V rocket that sent Apollo to the lunar surface, or the Space Launch System that will produce millions of pounds of thrust as it sends Artemis astronauts back to the Moon.

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NASA’s Perseverance Rover Bringing 3D-Printed Metal Parts to Mars

This video clip shows a 3D printing technique where a printer head scans over each layer of a part, blowing metal powder which is melted by a laser. It’s one of several ways parts are 3D printed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but was not used to create the parts aboard the Perseverance rover.

For hobbyists and makers, 3D printing expands creative possibilities; for specialized engineers, it’s also key to next-generation spacecraft design.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — If you want to see science fiction at work, visit a modern machine shop, where 3D printers create materials in just about any shape you can imagine. NASA is exploring the technique – known as additive manufacturing when used by specialized engineers – to build rocket engines as well as potential  outposts on the Moon and Mars. Nearer in the future is a different milestone: NASA’s  Perseverance rover, which lands on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021, carries 11 metal parts made with 3D printing.

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NASA InSight’s ‘Mole’ Is Out of Sight

NASA’s InSight retracted its robotic arm on Oct. 3, 2020, revealing where the spike-like “mole” is trying to burrow into Mars. The copper-colored ribbon attached to the mole has sensors to measure the planet’s heat flow. In the coming months, the arm will scrape and tamp down soil on top of the mole to help it dig. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Now that the heat probe is just below the Martian surface, InSight’s arm will scoop some additional soil on top to help it keep digging so it can take Mars’ temperature.


PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s InSight lander continues working to get its “mole” – a 16-inch-long (40-centimeter-long) pile driver and heat probe – deep below the surface of Mars. A camera on InSight’s arm recently took images of the now partially filled-in “mole hole,” showing only the device’s science tether protruding from the ground.

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Airbus to Bring First Mars Samples to Earth: ESA Contract Award

ERO will reach Mars orbit, capture orbiting samples launched from the Red Planet and bring them back to Earth. (Credit: Airbus)
  • A new decade of European exploration – to the Moon and Mars
  • Airbus to design and build the Earth Return Orbiter (ERO) for Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign
  • ERO will reach Mars orbit, capture orbiting samples launched from the Red Planet and bring them back to Earth

TOULOUSE, 14 October 2020 (Airbus PR) – Airbus has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) as prime contractor for the Mars Sample Return’s Earth Return Orbiter (ERO) – the first ever spacecraft to bring samples back to Earth from Mars. Mars Sample Return (MSR) is a joint ESA-NASA campaign and the next step in the exploration of Mars. ERO and the Sample Fetch Rover (SFR) are the two main European elements of MSR, both are set to be designed and built by Airbus.

A manipulating arm, referred to as the Sample Transfer Arm (STA), that will transfer the samples from the SFR to the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), is the third European contribution to the MSR program. The value of the ERO contract is €491 million [$574.8 million].

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ESA Selects Thales Alenia Space to Build Two Modules for Lunar Gateway

(Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

Turin, October, 14 2020 – Thales Alenia Space, the joint company between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), will develop two key modules for the upcoming Lunar Orbital Platform–Gateway (LOP-G): I-HAB (International Habitat) and the ESPRIT communications and refueling module.

These two modules are the European contribution for this Gateway. The first tranche of I-HAB contract, (worth 36 million euros, the global amount being 327 million euros), has been signed with the European Space Agency (ESA), while ESPRIT development has already started under Authorization To Proceed (ATP) with a contract signature expected by the end of the year.

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