Terran Orbital Successfully Completes Next Step In Demonstrating Space-To-Ground Optical Link On NASA’s Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator 3 Satellite

PTD-3’s TeraByte InfraRed Delivery (TBIRD) payload will demonstrate optical communications downlink at a groundbreaking 200 gigabits per second (Image Credit: Terran Orbital Corporation)

BOCA RATON, Fla. (Terran Orbital PR) — Terran Orbital Corporation (NYSE: LLAP), a global leader in satellite solutions, primarily serving the United States and Allied aerospace and defense industries, today announced the first signal acquisition of the Terabyte Infrared Delivery (TBIRD) Lasercom Optical Link on NASA’s Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator 3 (PTD-3) satellite. Acquisition of the Lasercom Optical Link means that the spacecraft and the optical ground terminal have successfully exchanged laser communication signals — bringing PTD-3 one step closer to full payload commissioning.

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NASA-Supported Advanced Laser Communications CubeSat Readies for Launch

Jackson Barcheck, lead technician with Blue Canyon Technologies (far left), and Jake Cornish, senior mission manager at Nanoracks (middle left), insert the 3U CLICK A CubeSat into its dispenser in April 2022. Nanoracks engineers, Aniello Zabatta (middle right) and Adriana Aiello (far right), observe at the Nanoracks facility in Houston. (Credits: NASA / Robert Markowitz)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A small CubeSat carrying laser communications technology is readying for launch. Engineers are preparing the NASA-supported CLICK A CubeSat for launch no earlier than July 14, 2022, aboard SpaceX’s 25th Commercial Resupply Service (CRS-25) mission to the International Space Station as part of the next ELaNa (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) mission.

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International Space Station National Lab Sponsoring Diverse Set of Experiments Launching on SpaceX CRS-25

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (CASIS PR) – A wide variety of research and technology development payloads sponsored by the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory will soon launch to the orbiting laboratory. These payloads are among the more than 4,700 pounds of cargo onboard SpaceX’s 25th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission (contracted by NASA), launching no earlier than 8:44 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 14, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

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NASA Highlights Climate Research on Cargo Launch, Sets Coverage

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle is pictured docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing international docking adapter. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA Mission Update

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 8:44 p.m. EDT Thursday, July 14, to launch the agency’s next investigation to monitor climate change to the International Space Station. The mission, NASA’s Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT), will fly aboard SpaceX’s 25th commercial resupply services mission to the orbital laboratory.

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the international crew, including a new climate research investigation.

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Astra to Launch NASA TROPICS No Earlier Than Sunday

Rocket 3.3 lifts off from Kodiak Island on March 15, 2022. (Credit: Astra Space/NASASpaceflight.com webcast)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — Astra Space Inc. is targeting no earlier than June 12, pending issuance of a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration, for the first launch of NASA’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS), a constellation of six CubeSats. Two CubeSats, each about the size of a loaf of bread, will launch aboard Astra’s Rocket 3.3 from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

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Spaceflight Inc. Successfully Debuts its Latest OTV, Sherpa-AC

SEATTLE (Spaceflight Inc. PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the leading global launch services provider, today announced it has contacted its Sherpa-AC vehicle and confirmed the vehicle is operating nominally. This is the debut launch of Sherpa-AC, the latest variation in the company’s Sherpa orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) portfolio. The Transporter 5 rideshare mission on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral on May 25 headed to a Sun Synchronous orbit, 525km. Spaceflight successfully delivered all five customer payloads, including two hosted payloads on the Sherpa OTV, to their desired orbital destinations.

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Mi­ni Robots Prac­tice Grasp­ing Space De­bris on ISS

Simulation with the two Astrobees. [Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)]
  • During trials on the International Space Station (ISS), one robot positions itself so that it could grab another.
  • These simulate an approach to a tumbling object.
  • The robots work completely autonomously.
  • Focus: Spaceflight, ISS, security, artificial intelligence

OBERPFAFFENHOFEN, Germany (DLR PR) — A challenging feat for a little robot: Honey the Astrobee must grasp and transport Bumble the Astrobee. To pull it off, Honey needs to understand Bumble’s trajectory, position itself correctly and avoid a collision at all costs. Artificial intelligence (AI) helps the cube-shaped robot to accurately assess the situation.

The experiment is part of the TumbleDock/ROAM project, which the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is carrying out together with its partners on the ISS. The experiments are part of an effort to determine the best way to remove hazardous pieces of space debris from Earth orbit.

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Axiom Space Ax-1 Mission to Expand Health, Technology Researchers’ Access to ISS

The International Space Station, photographed by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli following the undocking of his Soyuz-TMA on 23 May 2011. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

Self-assembling technology for future space habitats, cancer research, and devices to purify air on space stations are among investigations headed to the International Space Station on first all-private astronaut mission to the orbiting laboratory  

HOUSTON, 17 March 2022 (Axiom Space PR) – Axiom Space, a leader in human spaceflight now building the first commercial space station, announced today further details on the groundbreaking research planned for the upcoming Ax-1 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) – including self-assembling technology for satellites and future space habitats, cancer stem cell study, and air purification. 

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Silent, Solid-State Propulsion for Advanced Air Mobility Vehicles

Graphic depiction of Silent, Solid-State Propulsion for Advanced Air Mobility Vehicles. (Credits: Steven Barrett)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA is funding research into how to reduce noise levels produced by the next generation of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) air mobility vehicles.

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NASA Funds Research into Venus Atmosphere Sample Return Mission

Graphic depiction of Venus Atmosphere and Cloud Particle Sample Return for Astrobiology. (Credits: Sara Seager)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has funded a study of a mission designed to return samples of Venus’ atmosphere to Earth for scientists to search for signs of life.

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NASA Selects Futuristic Space Technology Concepts for Early Study

Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — An astronaut steps into a body scanner and, hours later, walks on Mars in a custom-made spacesuit, breathing oxygen that was extracted from Mars’ carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere. On Venus, an inflatable bird-like drone swoops through the sky, studying the planet’s atmosphere and weather patterns. Ideas like these are currently science fiction, but they could one day become reality, thanks to a new round of grants awarded by NASA.

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NASA Invests in Tech Development From Small Businesses, Researchers

A new round of awards for small business and research partnerships will advance technology development. A partnership between Interstel Technologies, Inc., and University of Hawaii at Manoa will develop a system for guiding swarms of vehicles, such as rovers, illustrated here. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program has awarded $15 million to U.S. small businesses and research institutions to continue developing technologies in areas ranging from aeronautics to science and space exploration.

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CLICK Team Tests Optical Communications Technology Ahead of Small Spacecraft Swarm Demonstration

Graduate students build the test assembly of the CubeSat Laser Infrared CrosslinK, or CLICK, B/C engineering development unit in a clean room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. (Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (NASA PR) — Teams from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge and University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville are currently testing components of NASA’s CubeSat Laser Infrared CrosslinK (CLICK) B/C demonstration, aiming to validate that the technology can be packaged into a CubeSat and work as expected. CLICK B/C is the second of two sequential missions designed to advance optical communications capabilities for autonomous fleets of CubeSats.

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AFRL Announces Winners of Space University Research Initiative Funding Opportunity

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratoryvia its basic research office, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, announced December 17, the winners of the newly established Space University Research Initiative (SURI) program – a first step in improving the transition of critical concepts from academia into revolutionary new military technologies for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force (USSF).

“Our way of warfare depends on space superiority and AFRL has a long history of research and development in support of this domain. With the recent standup of the USSF, along with the emergence of U.S. Space Command and new energy in the commercial space sector, we have exciting opportunities to modernize the way we lead and manage S&T,” wrote AFRL Commander, Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle in her 2021 Commander’s Intent.

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