Launch Dates to be Updated More Regularly as Commercial Crew Flights Draw Nearer

NASA assigned nine astronauts to crew the first test flight and mission of both Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. The astronauts are, from left to right: Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — As NASA’s Commercial Crew partners Boeing and SpaceX crew transportation systems are within months of being ready for the first test flights of their spacecraft that will carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station from U.S. soil, the scheduling of launch dates enters a new phase.

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NASA Selects Two Companies to Help Take Out the Deep Space Trash

Sierra Nevada Corporation has evolved heat melt compaction technology from initial development and demonstration efforts to the design of the Trash Compaction and Processing System planned for testing aboard the International Space Station.
(Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS) to develop systems that can reduce trash volume, and process the resulting atmosphere contaminants during deep space missions. The U.S. companies responded to NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Appendix F: Logistics Reduction (LR) in Space by Trash Compaction and Processing System (TCPS) Broad Agency Announcement, issued in July.

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Hubble Space Telescope Enters Safe Mode

Hubble Space Telescope (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is working to resume science operations of the Hubble Space Telescope after the spacecraft entered safe mode on Friday, October 5, shortly after 6:00 p.m. EDT. Hubble’s instruments still are fully operational and are expected to produce excellent science for years to come.

Hubble entered safe mode after one of the three gyroscopes (gyros) actively being used to point and steady the telescope failed. Safe mode puts the telescope into a stable configuration until ground control can correct the issue and return the mission to normal operation.

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SSL Selected to Compete for Contract to Provide SmallSat Solutions to Department of Defense

PALO ALTO, CA, Oct. 8, 2018 (SSL PR) – SSL, a Maxar Technologies company (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.) (NYSE: MAXR) (TSX: MAXR), and a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, has been selected as one of three companies qualified to compete for Department of Defense business under a contract called Small Spacecraft Prototyping Engineering Development and Integration – Space Solutions (SSPEDI).

NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the contract under an interagency agreement with the Department of Defense’s Space Rapid Capabilities Office. The new contract is one of a number of innovative and promising programs in SSL’s growing U.S. government portfolio.

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NASA Deepens International Space Cooperation

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

BREMEN, Germany (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine took advantage of the global presence at the 2018 International Astronautical Congress to sign three new agreements, underpinning the agency’s continued commitment to international cooperation. The agreements, with Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Japan, covered lunar exploration, X-ray astronomy and human space flight.

NASA and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) agreed to cooperatively utilize the Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL’s commercial lunar mission, expected to land on the Moon in 2019. NASA will contribute a laser retroreflector array to aid with ground tracking and Deep Space Network support to aid in mission communication. ISA and SpaceIL will share data with NASA from the SpaceIL lunar magnetometer installed aboard the spacecraft. The instrument, which was developed in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute of Science, will measure the magnetic field on and above the landing site.

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NASA Voyager 2 Could Be Nearing Interstellar Space

This graphic shows the position of the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes relative to the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the Sun that extends well past the orbit of Pluto. Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause, or the edge of the heliosphere, in 2012. Voyager 2 is still in the heliosheath, or the outermost part of the heliosphere. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Voyager 2 probe, currently on a journey toward interstellar space, has detected an increase in cosmic rays that originate outside our solar system. Launched in 1977, Voyager 2 is a little less than 11 billion miles (about 17.7 billion kilometers) from Earth, or more than 118 times the distance from Earth to the Sun.

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Russia Expresses Lunar Gateway Doubts, Ponders Joint Lunar Surface Base with China

The space station formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway (Credit: NASA)

Russian officials are expressing doubts about the American-led Lunar Gateway — which would orbit the moon — while deepening cooperation with China on deep-space exploration projects that could include a crewed base on the surface of Earth’s closest neighbor.

SpaceNews reports that Dmitri Loskutov, head of Roscosmos’ international cooperation department, laid out a series of concerns during a panel discussion last week at the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany.

“For the moment, it looks like it is an American program with international participation,” he said. “How will this cooperation be managed? Will there be some sort of international administrative body? Will its principles remain those that are now valid for the International Space Station, in terms of consensus in decision-making?”

“For the moment, all the decisions are made by NASA. It seems U.S. standards will be imposed,” he said. “For Roscosmos and the Russian Federation, limited participation is not that interesting.”

Loskutov’s boss, Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin, was in China the week before for joint discussions on a range of cooperative projects.

“As a result of the meeting, a Protocol was signed, according to which the Parties will take further steps to bring their positions closer within the framework of implementing joint projects on launch vehicles and rocket engines, on exploration of the Moon and deep space, remote sensing of the Earth, satellite navigation, creation of an electronic component base for space purposes, low-orbit mobile communication system and space debris monitoring,” according to a Roscosmos press release.

Tass quoted Rogozin as saying the project could include a base on the lunar surface.

“China is a serious partner. I don’t rule out that as soon as we agree the outlines of our lunar program with the Americans, it is our manned lunar program, the formation of a research station on Moon’s surface is likely to be carried out with our Chinese partners. They can be equal partners already in the coming years,” he told Russia’s TV Channel One.

NASA Awards Earth Science Data Contracts to DigitalGlobe, Planet & SPIRE

One of the organizations in NASA’s Private Sector Small Constellation Satellite Data Product Pilot program, Planet, has several satellite constellations including Dove. Two of the Dove small satellites are shown here deploying from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has launched a pilot program to evaluate how Earth science data from commercial small-satellite constellations could supplement observations from the agency’s fleet of orbiting Earth science missions. On Sept. 28, the agency awarded sole-source contracts to acquire test data sets from three private sector organizations.

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NASA, UAE Space Agency Sign Historic Agreement for Cooperation in Human Spaceflight

BREMEN, Germany (NASA PR) — NASA and the UAE Space Agency (UAESA) signed an Implementing Arrangement (IA) Monday, Oct. 1, that outlines cooperation across a range of areas related to space exploration and human spaceflight. The document was signed by H.E. Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during a ceremony at the 69th International Astronautical Congress, being held in Bremen, Germany Oct. 1-5.

The IA falls under the overarching Framework Agreement signed between the UAESA and NASA in June 2016, which established a framework for areas of cooperation in ground-based research; sub-orbital research; research and flight activities in low-Earth orbit (LEO); and human and robotic exploration in the vicinity of the moon, on the lunar surface, and beyond.

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Commercial Crew Flights Slip into 2019

NASA assigned nine astronauts to crew the first test flight and mission of both Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. The astronauts are, from left to right: Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover. (Credits: NASA)

NASA announced on Thursday that no Commercial Crew Program flight tests to the International Space Station will be conducted this year. The new schedule is:

  • SpaceX Demo-1 (uncrewed): January 2019
  • Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): March 2019
  • SpaceX Demo-2 (crewed): June 2019
  • Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): August 2019

On August 2, NASA released the following schedule:

  • SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-1 (uncrewed): November 2018
  • Boeing CST-100 Starliner Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): late 2018/early 2019
  • SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 (crewed): April 2019
  • Boeing CST-100 Starliner Crew Flight Test (crewed): mid-2019.

Basically, the flights have slipped two months in the last two months. Further delays are possible.

 

Blue Origin to Expand Operations in Florida

Brig. Gen. Steven Garland, 14th Air Force vice commander, left, provides remarks at a Blue Origin media event held at Space Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, Sept 15, 2015. (Credit: USAF/Matthew Jurgens)

Blue Origin has yet to launch a rocket from Florida, but it is already planning an expansion of its operations in the Sunshine State, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

According to Space Florida, the state’s spaceport authority, the company is moving ahead with a $60 million facility in Exploration Park, the state-run complex near Kennedy Space Center where Blue Origin has already built a more than $200 million rocket factory, set to open early next year.

The new testing and refurbishment complex will create about 50 jobs with estimated annual wages of $70,000, plus benefits, according to Space Florida’s board of director meeting agenda. The board approved Space Florida to enter into an agreement with Blue Origin regarding the facility last month.

As part of the pact, the state will use tax dollars to reimburse Blue Origin up to $4 million in common infrastructure costs, such as roads and utilities….

The new testing and refurbishment facility will be central to Blue Origin’s commitment to reusability. The first stage of the New Glenn rocket, which provides the muscle for the launch, will be fully reusable, Blue Origin has said. It will land on a ship after separation from the second stage.

Space Station Crew Returns Safely to Earth

Three members of the Expedition 56 crew, NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, returned to Earth after months abroad the International Space Station and landed safely at 7:44 a.m. EDT (5:44 p.m. in Kazakhstan) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. (Credits: NASA)

DZHEZKAZGAN, Kazakhstan. (NASA PR) — Three members of the Expedition 56 crew returned safely to Earth Thursday from the International Space Station, where they spent months providing hands-on support for scientific research in low-Earth orbit, working to keep the orbiting laboratory fully operational, and performing three spacewalks.

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NASA, NOAA Convene GOES 17 Mishap Investigation Board

The GOES-S satellite being lowered into a thermal vacuum chamber. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have appointed a board to investigate an instrument anomaly aboard the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) 17 weather satellite currently in orbit.

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NASA, Israel Space Agency Sign Agreement for Commercial Lunar Cooperation

Lunar lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

BREMEN, Germany (NASA PR) — NASA has signed an agreement with the Israel Space Agency (ISA) to cooperatively utilize the Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL’s commercial lunar mission, expected to land on the Moon in 2019.

NASA will contribute a laser retroreflector array to aid with ground tracking and Deep Space Network support to aid in mission communication. ISA and SpaceIL will share data with NASA from the SpaceIL lunar magnetometer installed aboard the spacecraft.

The instrument, which was developed in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute of Science, will measure the magnetic field on and above the landing site. The data will be made publicly available through NASA’s Planetary Data System.  In addition, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will attempt to take scientific measurements of the SpaceIL lander as it lands on the Moon.

The agreement was signed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Avi Blasberger, Director of the Israel Space Agency. Dr. Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL, was also present.

“I’m thrilled to extend progress in commercial cooperation we’ve made in low-Earth orbit to the lunar environment with this new agreement with the Israel Space Agency and SpaceIL,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Innovative partnerships like this are going to be essential as we go forward to the Moon and create new opportunities there.”

SpaceIL competed in the Google Lunar X Prize, and continues to work toward landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the Moon. Together, NASA and SpaceIL will collaborate on analyzing the scientific data returned from the mission.

The agreement exemplifies the innovative approach that NASA and its international partners are taking to team up with commercial partners to advance important science and exploration objectives on and around the Moon.

For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov