Russian to Spend Decade, $25 Billion on Super Heavy Launch Vehicle

Ergonomic testing has been conducted for the new Federation spacecraft. (Credit: RSC Energia)

Russia is moving ahead with a decade-long, $25 billion (1.6 trillion ruble) program to create new super-heavy launch vehicles capable of lifting up to 100 metric tons into low Earth orbit (LEO), Tass reports.

The new boosters, known as Energia-3 and Energia-5, will incorporate technologies and elements of the Soyuz-5 medium-class rocket, which is now under development.

Soyuz-5 is designed to launch Russia’s new crewed spacecraft, Federatsiya (Federation), into Earth orbit. The Energia rockets will be used for lunar missions.

RSC Energia, which is developing the boosters, plans to test the Soyuz-5 rocket from 2022-25. The super-heavy booster would then be tested from 2028-2035 from the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

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Conquering the Challenge of Isolation in Space: NASA’s Human Research Program Director Receives National Recognition

NASA Human Research Program Director, William Paloski, Ph.D. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — On a recent afternoon at the Johnson Space Center, Bill Paloski, Ph.D., Director of NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP), commented on HRP’s mission to protect the health and safety of astronauts. He reflected on some of the human hazards of space, including radiation, isolation and confinement, distance from Earth, altered gravity, and hostile/closed environments.

“We still have a lot to learn about these hazards,” says Paloski. “For instance, how long does it take for space radiation to damage the human body? When you’re isolated, and can’t get home or talk to your family, how long can you stay positive? NASA’s Human Research Program exists to ensure the safety of brave people who are navigating unfamiliar territory in very stressful conditions. We need this program and its research teams to develop strategies to protect our explorers and pioneers who represent the front line of our nation’s space program.”

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Astrobotic Selected for NASA Award to Develop Sensor for Precise Planetary Landings

Credit: Astrobotic

Astrobotic’s precision landing sensor will unlock compelling new destinations on the Moon for science, exploration, and commerce.

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Astrobotic PR) – NASA’s Space Technology and Mission Directorate (STMD) announced today the selection of Astrobotic for a “Tipping Point” award to develop a novel terrain relative navigation (TRN) sensor for precise lunar landings.

This sensor will enable spacecraft to land with unprecedented precision at the most challenging and promising scientific and economically compelling destinations on the lunar surface, such as lunar skylights and the ice-rich poles of the Moon.

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Astrobotic Announces Selection of Two New NASA Research Contracts

Pittsburgh, Pa. (Astrobotic PR)  Astrobotic Technology Inc., announces $250,000 in new contract awards through NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

These two contracts, which were awarded to the company’s Future Missions and Technology (FM&T) department, will help the company develop novel technologies and strategies for the exploration of space and planetary surfaces.

Through an SBIR contract, “Software Defined Reliability for Low Cost Digital Signal Processors on Small Spacecraft” FM&T will address the needs of the growing space computing market for the next wave of robotic spaceflight customers with Astrobotic’s proprietary “Software Defined Reliability” (ASDR) technology.

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Human Health Gaps Loom with End of Space Station in Sight

After 168 days of living and working in low-Earth orbit, three members of the International Space Station Expedition 55 crew – NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and astronaut Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency – return to Earth Sunday, June 3, 2018. (Credit: NASA Television)

Long exposure to microgravity conditions does some bad things to the human body. The heart shrinks, bones become weaker and cells are exposed to damaging radiation.

The impacts will become more acute as NASA launches astronauts to the moon and Mars, which lie outside of the protection of the Earth’s Van Allen belt. The space agency has been conducting research aboard the International Space Station to find ways of addressing these risks before flights begin in the 2020’s.

The Trump Administration wants to end direct federal support for the station in 2024 to free up funding for human lunar missions. However, a recent NASA Inspector General audit indicates doing so could leave some vital human health research being left uncompleted, resulting in greater risks to astronauts on deep-space missions.

Below is an excerpt from the audit that discusses the human health research being conducted on the space station and the risks involved of ending station support in 2024.
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India Again Postpones Launch of Chandrayaan-2

India has decided to once again postpone the launch of its ambitious Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission out of an abundance of caution.

Earlier this year, the ISRO had launched GSAT-6A, a military communication satellite, but lost communication with it. Following this, the ISRO also recalled the launch of GSAT-11 from from Kourou, French Guiana, for additional technical checks. Last September, the PSLV- C39 mission, carrying the IRNSS-1H navigation satellite, failed after the heat shield refused to open and release the satellite….

“We don’t want to take any risk,” said the official, requesting anonymity. The official added that there are certain windows during which the mission could be launched. The next launch window is likely to be in January. Repeated attempts to solicit a response from ISRO chairman K. Sivan were not successful.

In April, Mr. Sivan informed the government about the postponement of the launch to October-November. A national-level committee to review Chandrayaan-2 recommended some additional tests before the mission could take off.

The mission will put an orbiter around the moon and a lander and rover on the surface. It is a follow-on to the successful Chandrayaan-1 orbiter.

NASA Inspector General Skeptical of Agency Plan for Commercializing Space Station

NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins conducts a session with the Capillary Flow Experiment. (Credit: NASA)

The NASA Inspector General is skeptical about the space agency’s plan to transition to commercial operations in Earth orbit after the end of direct federal support for the International Space Station (ISS) in 2024, according to a new report.

“Transitioning the ISS to private operation under the timetable currently envisioned presents significant challenges in stimulating private sector interest to take on an extremely costly and complex enterprise,” the audit found. “Based on our audit work, we question the viability of NASA’s current plans, particularly with regard to the feasibility of fostering increased commercial activity in low Earth orbit on the timetable proposed…

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Branson Honored for Space Efforts at Apollo Celebration Awards Ceremony

Richard Branson (l) and George Whitesides (r) walk with SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Virgin Galactic Founder Richard Branson was one of three people honored for contributions to further space exploration during the Apollo Celebration Gala held at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Saturday.

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What Would You 3D Print on the Moon to Make it Feel Like Home?

3D printed food produced by the TNO research centre in the Netherlands, a member of the URBAN consortium investigating 3D printing in support of a lunar base. (Credit: TNO/URBAN)

PARIS, 20 July 2018 (ESA PR) — A new ESA-led project is investigating the ways that 3D printing could be used to create and run a habitat on the Moon. Everything from building materials to solar panels, equipment and tools to clothes, even nutrients and food ingredients can potentially be 3D printed. But if you were headed to the Moon, what would you want to 3D print, to turn a lunar base into a place that feels like home? Tell us your idea, to win a chance of actually getting it printed.

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List of Interested Vendors in NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

Below is a list of vendors who expressed interest in NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. The space agency is looking to buy rides to the moon for payloads.

The list includes vendors ranging from the biggest aerospace companies in the country to former Google Lunar X Prize competitors to smaller companies that few people have heard about.

NASA’s deadline for making CLPS awards is Dec. 31, 2018.

NASA Lunar CATALYST Companies

Large Space Companies

Smaller Space Companies

Former Google Lunar X Prize Teams

And the Rest….

Astrobotic Selects Dynetics as Propulsion Provider for the Peregrine Lunar Lander

Peregrine lunar lander (Credit: Astrobotic)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Astrobotic PR)– Astrobotic proudly announces today during the 49th anniversary week of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing that the company has selected Dynetics of Huntsville, Alabama as the propulsion provider for its Peregrine Lunar Lander.

Peregrine will return America to the Moon for the first time since Apollo and begin delivering customer payloads once a year starting in 2020. Dynetics will integrate Peregrine’s main engines and attitude control thrusters, controller electronics, tanks, and feed system into a single system that performs all propulsive maneuvers from cruise to soft landing on the Moon.

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Mid-Year Global Launch Report: China & USA Continue to Battle for Lead

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 mission lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The world’s launch providers were extremely busy in the first half of 2018, with China and the United States battling for the lead.

There with 55 orbital launches through the end of June, which amounted to a launch every 3.29 days or 79 hours. The total is more than half the 90 launches attempted in 2017. With approximately 42 missions scheduled for the last six months of the year, the total could reach 97. (more…)

NASA Seeks New Ways to Handle Trash for Deep Space Missions

Heat melt compactor (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Life aboard the International Space Station requires extreme measures in efficiency to preserve resources, reduce waste, repurpose materials, and recycle water and breathable air. Regular cargo resupply missions deliver approximately 12 metric tons of supplies each year, which can lead to significant storage challenges aboard the orbiting laboratory.

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Rogozin Lays Out 10 Principles to Guide Roscosmos

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Today, June 28, 2018, Moscow hosted the scientific and practical conference “The main tasks and prospects for the development of Roscosmos”, at which the General Director of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin announced ten principles on which the State Corporation and enterprises of the industry will operate.

At the event, not only the heads of Roscosmos, but also all the enterprises of the industry gathered, there were altogether more than 250 people. The moderator of the conference was acting. Nikolay Sevastyanov, First Deputy General Director of Roscosmos State Corporation, who outlined the program of the meeting.

Opening speech delivered by Dmitry Rogozin, at the very beginning of which he cited Academician Andrei Sakharov: “Life is an expansion.” He also stressed that the Russian cosmos is the crown of self-identification of our people.

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Tethers Unlimited Delivers In-Space Recycler to NASA


BOTHELL, Wash. (Tethers Unlimited PR) — Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI) announced that it has successfully delivered the Refabricator payload to NASA in preparation for launch to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year.

The Refabricator is a mini-fridge sized experimental payload that combines a plastics-recycling system with a 3D printer. NASA will use this payload to demonstrate the ability for astronauts to recycle plastic waste and use the material to create new parts and tools to support long-duration manned missions to the Moon, Mars, and deep space.