NIAC Award: Building a Levitating Railroad on the Moon

Artist’s depiction of the FLOAT lunar railway system to provide reliable, autonomous, and efficient payload transport on the Moon. (Credits: Ethan Schaler)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award
Funding: up to $125,000
Study Period: 9 months

FLOAT: Flexible Levitation on a Track
Ethan Schaler
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, Calif.

We want to build the first lunar railway system, which will provide reliable, autonomous, and efficient payload transport on the Moon. A durable, long-life robotic transport system will be critical to the daily operations of a sustainable lunar base in the 2030’s, as envisioned in NASA’s Moon to Mars plan and mission concepts like the Robotic Lunar Surface Operations 2 (RLSO2), to:

(more…)

Dynetics Completes Human Landing System’s Preliminary Design Review

Artist concept of the Dynetics Human Landing System on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: Dynetics)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Feb. 25, 2021 (Dynetics PR) — Dynetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, has successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the Dynetics Human Landing System (HLS) for NASA’s Artemis Program, marking another critical milestone in human spaceflight. This review provided NASA with insight into the design of the human lander that Dynetics hopes will carry the first woman and the next man to the Moon.

(more…)

Futuristic Space Technology Concepts Selected by NASA for Initial Study

This illustration shows a conceptual lunar railway system called FLOAT (Flexible Levitation on a Track) that has been selected for an early-stage feasibility study within the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Four advanced space concepts from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been selected to receive grants for further research and development.

(more…)

ESA Plans Mission to Explore Lunar Caves

Three images of the Marius Hills pit imaged by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. This pit is about 34 metres deep and 65 by 90 metres wide. Marius Hills and other pits may be ‘skylights’ into extensive lava tubes. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

PARIS (ESA PR) — In a first step towards uncovering the Moon’s subterranean secrets, in 2019 we asked for your ideas to detect, map and explore lunar caves. Five ideas were selected to be studied in more detail, each addressing different phases of a potential mission.

(more…)

Russia’s Luna-25 Moon Lander Undergoes Acoustic Tests

Luna 25 undergoes acoustics tests. (Credit: RSC Energia/Roscosmos)

KOROLYOV, Russia (Roscosmos PR) — In the Rocket and Space Corporation Energia named after S.P. Korolev (part of the State Corporation “Roscosmos”), acoustic tests of the lander of the automatic interplanetary station “Luna-25”, created within the framework of the “Luna-Glob” project, were carried out for the study and practical use of the natural satellite of the Earth and the lunar space. The tests were carried out by order of the S.A. Lavochkin (part of Roscosmos), the developer of this spacecraft.

(more…)

Rogozin Says 29 Launches, Lunar Lander & New ISS Modules on the Manifest for 2021

Vladimir Putin receives a briefing from Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: Office of the Russian President)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — General Director of the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities Dmitry Rogozin reported to President Vladimir Putin on the corporation’s performance in 2020 and plans for the near term.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Rogozin, let us have an in-depth discussion on the corporation’s performance in 2020. The issues we will discuss include carrier rocket launches, the state of the orbital group, your plans, fundamental space research, and, of course, the financial indicators. Please, go ahead. 

General Director of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin: Mr. President, last year we posted good results overall. For a second year running since 1993, there were no accidents. This is certainly a positive indicator – I hope we will continue in the same manner – of improved discipline in the sector as a whole and the reliability of our rocket and space technology.

(more…)

Lightweight Crane Technology Could Find a Home on the Moon

LSMS is a lightweight, scalable, and versatile long-reach manipulator that combines high structural efficiency and robustness with the enhanced dexterity and multi-functionality of a deployable robotic arm. (Credits: NASA)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Like a Swiss Army knife, there’s not a whole lot NASA’s Lightweight Surface Manipulation System (LSMS) technology can’t do.

This lightweight robotic crane is comprised of a structurally efficient truss frame with cable actuation, and mimics the movement of a human arm, but with a much longer reach. It is scalable to fit any sized lander, vehicle, or surface application and can use a toolbox of quick-interchange end-effectors, or tools, that allow it to act as a hoist, forklift, regolith scoop, welder, and more.

(more…)

Astrobotic Selects Agile Space Industries to Provide Attitude Control Thrusters for Lunar Missions

NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is a mobile robot that will roam around the Moon’s south pole looking for water ice. The VIPER mission will give us surface-level detail of where the water is and how much is available for us to use. This will bring us a significant step closer towards NASA’s ultimate goal of a sustainable, long-term presence on the Moon – making it possible to eventually explore Mars and beyond. (Credit: NASA Ames/Daniel Rutter)

DURANGO, Colo., February 16, 2021 — Polar Moonshots are in a league of their own when it comes to the level of difficulty. In order to overcome this historically daunting challenge for the first-ever Griffin Mission transporting NASA’s VIPER rover to the Moon’s South Pole, NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program selectee Astrobotic is enlisting Agile Space Industries to help them go where no American spacecraft has gone before. Astrobotic’s Griffin Mission lander is relying on Attitude Control Thrusters (“ACT”s), from Agile to provide steering capabilities in the vacuum of space. Agile’s innovative custom propulsion solutions utilize 3D printing of exotic metal alloys to provide unprecedented performance, along with minimized mass and cost.

(more…)

Astrobotic Selects Lander Engines & More for Griffin/VIPER Mission

PITTSBURGH, February 16, 2020 (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic’s Griffin Mission One (GM1) team has selected Agile Space Industries for Attitude Control System (ACS) thrusters and Frontier Aerospace for axial engines for their Griffin lunar lander. Astrobotic’s Griffin will deliver NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the South Pole of the Moon in late 2023. Upon landing, VIPER will map the presence of water ice on the Moon.

(more…)

Momentus and Qosmosys Announce First Singaporean Lunar Mission on Momentus’ Ardoride Service Vehicle

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Momentus PR) — Momentus Inc. (“Momentus” or the “Company”), a commercial space company offering in-space infrastructure services, and Qosmosys, a new space venture founded in Singapore last year, announced today a service agreement to deliver two cubesats to low lunar orbit as early as 2024 via Momentus’ inaugural lunar mission.

The new contract builds and expands on the agreement announced in January 2021 for delivery of up to four cubesats in low Earth orbit by Momentus’ Vigoride service vehicle, starting in 2022. Qosmosys will expand its novel business ideas to the Moon using a specific bus named Zeus-MS, a version of its Zeus platform it has been developing in cooperation with NuSpace from Singapore, and made specific for lunar missions. Zeus-MS is the precursor to a series of multi-mission platforms that will allow organizations and businesses to host their payloads, and will offer individuals a bespoke, unprecedented line of services to the Moon on regularly scheduled flights.

(more…)

Axiom Space Raises $130 Million in Series B Funding

Axiom space station (Credit: Axiom Space)
  • Capital will accelerate growth of workforce and development of world’s first commercial space station
  • NASA selected Axiom to begin attaching its privately developed space station modules to the International Space Station as early as 2024
  • Axiom recently revealed the first-ever private astronaut ISS crew, launching in January 2022

HOUSTON, TX, February 16, 2021 — Axiom Space, Inc., which is developing the world’s first commercial space station, has raised $130M in Series B funding. The round was led by C5 Capital and includes TQS Advisors, Declaration Partners (the investment firm backed by David M. Rubenstein), Moelis Dynasty Investments, Washington University in St. Louis, The Venture Collective, Aidenlair Capital, Hemisphere Ventures, and Starbridge Venture Capital.

(more…)

Italy Takes First Steps Towards the Moon

Lunar multi-purpose module (Credit: Italian Space Agency)

The Italian Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space Italia are at work for the American lunar exploration program Artemis.

ROME (Italian Space Agency PR) — Italy is taking its first steps towards the Moon. The country system is preparing for the great leap on the surface of our natural satellite also thanks to the international relations between Italy and the United States and between the respective space agencies ASI and NASA, which have recently intensified on the basis of the mutual interest in collaborating on the program of Artemis exploration.

Within this strategic framework, a contract was born between the Italian Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space Italia, (JV between Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%) dedicated to the feasibility study and preliminary design (phases A / B) of a multi-purpose module linked to NASA’s Artemis mission which provides a human crew on the Moon.

(more…)

Goddard’s Core Flight Software Chosen for NASA’s Lunar Gateway

An Orion spacecraft approaches the lunar Gateway. (Credit: NASA)

By Katherine Schauer and Karl Hille
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA is improving a flight software system to help create and certify essential software for the lunar Gateway.

As part of the Artemis program, NASA will send astronauts to the Moon and establish a sustained lunar presence by the end of the decade. The Gateway will provide a waypoint for lunar exploration and allow astronauts to live and work in lunar orbit as well as host science instruments and experiments.

(more…)

Turkey Outlines 10-Year Space Development Program

The same day that rival United Arab Emirates’ Hope spacecraft entered orbit around Mars, Turkey unveiled an ambitious 10-year plan that includes sending an astronaut into orbit and a rover to the surface of the moon.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the country’s lunar rover would be launched in 2023 to mark the centennial of the nation’s founding. “We will go to the moon in 2023,” he said.

The 10-year program has ten different areas of focus.

  • lunar exploration
  • indigenous satellite development
  • regional positioning and timing
  • space access and spaceport development
  • Turkish astronaut and scientific research
  • space weather research
  • observation and tracking of space objects
  • creation of a space industry ecosystem
  • development of human resources
  • creation of space technology development zone.

“The national space program will carry our country to an upper league in the global space race,” Erdogan said as he announced the 10-year plan.

The Turkish Space Agency (TUA) will carry out the program. You can learn more about 10-year plan here.

NASA Awards Contract to SpaceX to Launch Initial Elements for Lunar Outpost

An illustration of the Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element and Habitation and Logistics Outpost in orbit around the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), the foundational elements of the Gateway. As the first long-term orbiting outpost around the Moon, the Gateway is critical to supporting sustainable astronauts missions under the agency’s Artemis program.

(more…)