NASA to Broadcast Departure of Cygnus Cargo Ship From Station

April 19, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are docked at the space station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter and Russia’s Progress 71 and 72 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-11 and MS-12 crew ships. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — More than three months after delivering several tons of supplies and scientific experiments to the International Space Station, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft, the SS Roger Chaffee, will depart the orbiting laboratory Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Live coverage of the craft’s release will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at noon EDT, with release scheduled for 12:15 p.m.

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New Acting Director of NASA Goddard Named

George Morrow

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has named George Morrow to serve as acting director of the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, effective Thursday, Aug. 1. Morrow will replace Chris Scolese, who is departing NASA to be the director of the National Reconnaissance Office.

Morrow has been serving as Goddard’s deputy center director since April 2015 and previously served as both director and deputy director of the Flight Projects Directorate at Goddard. He began his career at Goddard in 1983 as the Lead Spacecraft Battery Systems Engineer. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia and Masters of Engineering Administration degree from George Washington University.

Scolese is leaving NASA after 32 years of service. He has served as Goddard’s center director for seven years, before which he was the agency’s associate administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington, which included six months as acting NASA administrator in 2009. Scolese’s career also included tenures as NASA chief engineer and Goddard’s deputy center director.

Goddard is home to the nation’s largest organization of scientists, engineers and technologists who build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study Earth, the Sun, our solar system and the universe.

Learn more about NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center at:

https://www.nasa.gov/goddard

GOES-17 Mishap Investigation Board Completes Study

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

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A Mishap Investigation Board appointed by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has identified the most likely cause for an instrument issue aboard NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-17 satellite that launched March 1, 2018 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

During post launch testing of the satellite’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), teams discovered the instrument’s infrared detectors could not be maintained at the required temperatures during some orbital conditions, which resulted in a partial loss of three of the instruments 16 bands during certain times of the year.

The ABI is GOES-17’s primary instrument for imaging Earth’s weather, oceans, and environment. It views the Earth with 16 spectral bands including two visible, four near-infrared, and 10 infrared channels.

The mishap board was tasked with gathering and analyzing information, and identifying the proximate causes, root causes, and contributing factors related to the ABI performance issues.

It concluded the most likely cause of the ABI cooling issue is a blockage in the instrument’s loop heat pipes, which transfer heat from the ABI electronics to its radiator. The blockage restricted the flow of coolant in the loop heat pipes, causing the ABI to overheat and reducing the sensitivity of infrared sensors.

NOAA and NASA have adjusted the instrument operations, and are working to improve the quality of the data in order to reduce the impact of the cooling issue.

GOES-17, in the GOES-West position, is helping forecasters track weather from torrential rain events to wildfires and other environmental hazards throughout the U.S. western region, including California, Alaska and Hawaii. Also, GOES-17 is monitoring typhoons in the eastern Pacific Ocean, including Hawaii. 

The Mishap Investigation Board Summary Report is available online at:

https://www.nasa.gov/reports

GOES-17 is one in a series of NOAA’s next generation geostationary weather satellites which include GOES-16, 18 and 19. The advanced instrument technology used on these satellites will result in more timely and accurate forecasts and warnings. It will improve support for the detection and observations of meteorological phenomena. The GOES-R Series program is a collaborative development and acquisition effort between NOAA and NASA to develop, launch and operate the geostationary weather satellites.

NASA Announces Call for Next Phase of Commercial Lunar Payload Services

Commercial landers like this will carry science and technology payloads, including one built by UC Berkeley, to the lunar surface, paving the way for NASA astronauts to land on the Moon by 2024. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has announced the latest opportunity for industry to participate in its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) efforts to deliver science and technology payloads to and near the Moon.

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NASA Announces US Industry Partnerships to Advance Moon, Mars Technology

Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — As NASA prepares to land humans on the Moon by 2024 with the Artemis program, commercial companies are developing new technologies, working toward space ventures of their own, and looking to NASA for assistance. NASA has selected 13 U.S. companies for 19 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies and help maintain American leadership in space.

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NASA’s Uncertain Path Back to the Moon

Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Nothing illustrates the changes wrought by the Trump Administration’s decision to move up the deadline for returning astronauts to the moon from 2028 to 2024 than a pair of contracts NASA awarded for the Lunar Gateway that will serve as a staging point for the landing.

In May, Maxar won a competitively awarded $375 million contract to build the Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element (PPE). NASA released a source selection statement that detailed how officials evaluated the five bids they received and why Maxar’s proposal was superior to the others.

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Orbit Beyond Ends NASA Contract to Land Spacecraft on Moon

Orbit Beyond of Edison, New Jersey, has proposed to fly as many as four payloads to a lava plain in one of the Moon’s craters. (Credit: Orbit Beyond)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Citing “internal corporate challenges”, Orbit Beyond has pulled out of a $97 million contract with NASA to land a spacecraft on the moon in July 2021.

“Orbit Beyond, Inc., has informed NASA of internal corporate challenges that will prevent the timely completion of its awarded task order,” the space agency said in a press release.

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NASA’s TESS Mission Scores ‘Hat Trick’ With 3 New Worlds

This infographic illustrates key features of the TOI 270 system, located about 73 light-years away in the southern constellation Pictor. The three known planets were discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite through periodic dips in starlight caused by each orbiting world. Insets show information about the planets, including their relative sizes, and how they compare to Earth. Temperatures given for TOI 270’s planets are equilibrium temperatures, calculated without the warming effects of any possible atmospheres. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger)

By Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s newest planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), has discovered three new worlds — one slightly larger than Earth and two of a type not found in our solar system — orbiting a nearby star. The planets straddle an observed gap in the sizes of known planets and promise to be among the most curious targets for future studies.

TESS Object of Interest (TOI) 270 is a faint, cool star more commonly identified by its catalog name: UCAC4 191-004642. The M-type dwarf star is about 40% smaller than the Sun in both size and mass, and it has a surface temperature about one-third cooler than the Sun’s. The planetary system lies about 73 light-years away in the southern constellation of Pictor.

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NASA Decides to Do SLS Green Run After All

The “Green Run” test of the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) will be conducted at the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Flight Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi (Credits: NASA)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced July 25 the agency will conduct a “Green Run” core stage test for the Space Launch System rocket ahead of the upcoming Artemis 1 lunar mission.

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Robert Bigelow Disappointed with NASA Decision on Lunar Gateway Hab Module

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and President and founder of Bigelow Aerospace, Robert T. Bigelow, announce a planned addition to the International Space Station that will use the orbiting laboratory to test expandable space habitat technology during a press conference held at Bigelow Aerospace on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 in Las Vegas. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Commentary by Robert Bigelow

We have received many inquires about what is going on with the Gateway program. As many of you have already read it appears that negotiations are already underway between NASA and Northrop Grumman for a modified “mini hab” that is going to be docked to the PPE. What we think we know is that NASA wants to use a modified version of the Cygnus cargo vehicle, which is built by Thales Alenia. The current use of the Cygnus is to haul supplies to the ISS and dispose of trash by burning up in the atmosphere.

What has also been discussed is that the Cygnus would be converted to a structure with multiple docking ports. Our understanding at this time is that this structure would internally not have life support systems that without being attached to another structure wouldn’t keep people alive. We agree that a multi-port docking node is a valuable asset.

We have also been told by NASA that there is some future possibility to expect the emergence of a domestic habitat someday. As always, that is precisely what Bigelow is interested in building. In fact, our habitat is actually a standalone space station. We think the B330 standalone space station would make an excellent low altitude lunar depot.

Someday if NASA were to give us the green light, we would be very excited to be part of the Gateway program, a future low-level lunar depot program or to even land a lunar base on the moon.

Robert T. Bigelow
President and Founder

SpaceX Launches Dragon Cargo Ship to Space Station

Dragon arriving at Space Station (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX successfully launched a Dragon supply ship to the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday evening from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The company said the spacecraft entered the planned orbit and opened its solar arrays as scheduled. It’s the third trip to ISS for this particular spacecraft.

The Falcon 9 first stage touched down back at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Dragon will arrive at the space station on Saturday morning.

Michael Collins Answers All Your Questions About Apollo 11

Michael Collins

UPDATED for the 50th Anniversary July 2019
2009 Michael Collins Interviews Michael Collins

Statement from Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins

The following is a series of questions and answers prepared by Michael Collins, command module pilot for Apollo 11.

These are questions I am most frequently asked plus a few others I have added. For more information, please consult my book, the 50th anniversary edition of CARRYING THE FIRE, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys. All of the following sections in quotation marks are from that reference.

Q. Circling the lonely moon by yourself, the loneliest person in the universe, weren’t you lonely?

A. No.

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SpaceX Dragon to Fly to Space Station for Third Time

Dragon spacecraft (Credit: NASA)

Update: Launch scrubbed for weather on Wednesday. SpaceX will try again on Thursday, July 25 at 6:01 p.m. EDT (22:01 UTC).

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, July 24 for launch of its eighteenth Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-18) at 6:24 p.m. EDT, or 22:24 UTC, fromSpace Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Dragon will separate from Falcon 9’s second stage about nine minutes after liftoff and attach to the space station on Friday, July 26. A backup launch opportunity is available on Thursday, July 25 at 6:01 p.m. EDT, or 22:01 UTC.

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Weather Could Delay Wednesday’s Launch of SpaceX Dragon Cargo Ship

Dragon on the end of Candarm2. (Credit: NASA)

Update: Launch scrubbed for weather on Wednesday. SpaceX will try again on Thursday, July 25 at 6:01 p.m. EDT (22:01 UTC).

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, topped with the company’s cargo Dragon spacecraft, stands ready for launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida for the company’s CRS-18 mission to the International Space Station. However, one thing to keep an eye on for this evening’s launch is the weather.

“I notice plenty of humidity out there, but another thing we have to deal with is the direction of the steering flow, or where the winds in the atmosphere are going to steer those afternoon showers and thunderstorms,” said Will Ulrich, launch weather officer for the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing, in this morning’s prelaunch news conference. “Today, we have winds that will concentrate the majority of today’s showers and thunderstorms near the spaceport.”

The launch forecast currently remains 30% “go” with the primary weather concern being cumulus clouds and their associated anvil clouds, as well as lightning. “I wish I had some better news, but hopefully we can find a gap in today’s showers and thunderstorms,” said Ulrich.

Live launch coverage will begin at 6 p.m. EDT on NASA TV and the agency’s website, as well as here on the blog. Previously flown on CRS-6 and CRS-13, this evening’s launch will be the first time SpaceX is flying Dragon for a third time.

CRS-18 will deliver about 5,000 pounds of science investigations, supplies and equipment to the orbiting laboratory. Learn more about the mission at: https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/spacex_crs-18_mision_overview_high_res.pdf

NASA Awards Contract to Northrop Grumman for Lunar Gateway Habitat Module

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has awarded Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (NGIS) a contract of an undisclosed amount to modify its Cygnus space station resupply vehicle to serve as the minimal habitation module (MHM) for the Lunar Gateway.

Northrop Grumman won out over four competitors that had won contracts to develop mockup habitats under the space agency’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2) program.

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