NASA Announces Initiative to Boost Small Science Satellite Efforts

Artist illustration of events on the sun changing the conditions in Near-Earth space. A new study finds daily U.S. economic cost from solar storm-induced electricity blackouts could be in the tens of billions of dollars. (Credit: NASA)

LOGAN, Utah — The head of NASA’s science programs unveiled an $100 million per year initiative on Monday focused on the use of small scuebce satellites that includes data buys from three spacecraft constellation operators.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said the funding would go to targeted space science, technology and educational projects. He made the announcement during a keynote address at the annual Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah.

A key element of the initiative is the purchase of Earth science data from companies with satellite constellations in Earth orbit. Zurbuchen announced that the first purchases will be made from DigitalGlobe, Planet and Spire. He did not disclose the amounts of the awards.

Zurbuchen said NASA’s goal is to work with the growing small-satellite industry, not to compete with it. The space agency will invest in early-stage research and development to advance and test new technologies.

Zurbuchen also announced a new opportunity for small-satellite technology demonstrations focused on heliophysics that will be funded at up to $65 million.

“This opportunity will ultimately help deploy #SmallSat technologies to better understand @NASASun science and protect Americans by protecting US technological infrastructure on Earth and in space from the perils of space weather,” he tweeted.

Zurbuchen said NASA plans to provide more launch and rideshare opportunities for small satellites built by government, commercial and international partners.

NASA & JAXA Agree to Pursue Deep Space Gateway

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — On January 24, 2018, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) met to exchange their views on space exploration. The agencies signed a joint statement affirming their strong mutual interest in continued future cooperation in space exploration.

Both agencies have established a strong and committed partnership throughout the many years of cooperation in all mission areas, including human exploration, Earth and space science, fundamental aeronautics, and especially through the International Space Station (ISS) Program.


NASA’s Year in Review: Amazing Space Science in 2013

This artist's concept shows the Voyager 1 spacecraft entering the space between stars. (Credit: NASA)
This artist’s concept shows the Voyager 1 spacecraft entering the space between stars. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Takes a Look Back at 2013

NASA science this year uncovered new knowledge about our home planet and the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Analysis showed the Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered interstellar space and, at 12 billion miles away, is the most distant man-made object ever created.

The Space Review: Patent Rights, Space Science and Big Bird

Altair on the moon

This week in The Space Review….

Patent rights and flags of convenience in outer space
The effective commercialization of space requires a legal regime that, among other things, protects the intellectual property rights of companies doing work there. Matthew J. Kleiman describes a potential loophole in international space law that could undermine that legal protection.

Merging human spaceflight and science at NASA
Space science and human spaceflight, long foes in the battle for funding, are going in opposite directions at NASA. Lou Friedman argues it’s time to unite the two under a common mission of exploration.

The flight of the Big Bird (part 2)
Dwayne Day continues his examination of the history of the KH-9 HEXAGON reconnaissance satellite program by looking at its development, including budget battles that threatened the program with cancellation.

Buy this satellite?
Recent events have demonstrated the importance, but also the fragility, of Internet access. Jeff Foust reports on one group making a long-shot bid to buy a satellite to improve Internet access in underserved parts of the world.

Review: From Jars to the Stars
Building a satellite to perform a mission never before attempted can be a challenging, uncertain project. Jeff Foust reviews a book that chronicles the work by one company with an unlikely heritage to build a unique planetary science mission for NASA.

Former ISRO Chief Calls for More Space Science Funding

Ex-ISRO chairman terms Rs 23 crore fund for space research ‘ridiculous’

Professor U R Rao, the former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the incumbent chairman of the Governing Council of Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, has called the Rs 23 crore fund allocation for space research in India, as “ridiculous”.

He said given the amount of possibilities and the pace at which space research has evolved in the country, “we must provide enough support and allow scientists to work at their pace.”


Reactions to NASA Budget Mixed

Space Shuttle Launch

There are a lot of views, news and analysis about NASA’s proposed budget, what works and what doesn’t, and what the Obama Administration should do about the agency:

Obama’s NASA Budget Draws Mixed Reviews
Space News

Our views: Obama’s moon shot – President should fulfill pledge to return astronauts to lunar surface
Florida Today

NASA mission: unknown – Instead of answering questions, budget prompts even more
Florida Today

Coalition for Space Exploration calls for definitive plan upon announcement of 2010 NASA budget
Press Release

Proposed NASA Budget Emphasizes Earth Observations, Human Spaceflight
The Planetary Society

Congresswoman Kosmas’ Statement on NASA Budget Details and Constellation Review
Press Release

NASA’s $250M-a-month gamble
Orlando Sentinel

NASA officials said Thursday that they plan to continue spending at least $250 million a month on the rocket program intended to replace the space shuttle — even as an independent panel begins a three-month review to assess whether the program is worth the money.