NASA Extends Exploration for 8 Planetary Science Missions

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Following a thorough evaluation, NASA has extended the planetary science missions of eight of its spacecraft due to their scientific productivity and potential to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the solar system and beyond.

The missions – Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity rover), InSight lander, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, OSIRIS-REx, and New Horizons – have been selected for continuation, assuming their spacecraft remain healthy. Most of the missions will be extended for three years; however, OSIRIS-REx will be continued for nine years in order to reach a new destination, and InSight will be continued until the end of 2022, unless the spacecraft’s electrical power allows for longer operations.

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UAE and US Mars Missions to Collaborate on Science Data Analysis

An artist’s impression of the United Arab Emirates’ Hope spacecraft in orbit around Mars, where it will arrive in February 2021 after launching in July from Japan. (Credit: MBRSC)

DUBAI, April 12, 2022 (UAE Government Media Office) — The Emirates Mars Mission, the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation, has finalised a science data analysis collaboration initiative with NASA’s MAVEN Mars Mission, which will pave the way towards greater scientific collaboration and data exchange between the two missions.

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Astra Space Seeks to Launch First Satellites Today

Launch Date Set for NASA CubeSat Mission Aboard Astra Space’s Rocket 3.3

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s first mission under the agency’s Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) Demonstration 2 contract is scheduled to launch four CubeSats to space no earlier than Feb. 5, 2022. The CubeSats, which make up the agency’s 41st Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) mission, will be the first VCLS launch from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and Astra Space Inc’s first operational satellite launch aboard its Rocket 3.3.

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Launch Date Set for NASA CubeSat Mission Aboard Astra Space’s Rocket 3.3

Rocket 3 lifts off from Kodiak Island. (Credit: Astra Space webcast)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s first mission under the agency’s Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) Demonstration 2 contract is scheduled to launch four CubeSats to space no earlier than Feb. 5, 2022. The CubeSats, which make up the agency’s 41st Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) mission, will be the first VCLS launch from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and Astra Space Inc’s first operational satellite launch aboard its Rocket 3.3.

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Astra Space Conducts Static Fire for Upcoming Launch From Cape Canaveral

ELaNa 41 Mission
NASA Fact Sheet

NASA is preparing to launch four small research satellites, known as CubeSats, that were developed by three universities and NASA’s John­son Space Center. The CubeSats, selected through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative  (CSLI), are fly­ing on the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa 41) mission. The launch of ELaNa 41 will be Astra Space Inc’s first operational satellite launch. The company is targeting January 2022 for liftoff of its Rocket 3.3 from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

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NASA Enters the Solar Atmosphere for the First Time, Bringing New Discoveries

Parker Solar Probe near the sun. (Credit: NASA)

By Mara Johnson-Groh
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — For the first time in history, a spacecraft has touched the Sun. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has now flown through the Sun’s upper atmosphere – the corona – and sampled particles and magnetic fields there. 

The new milestone marks one major step for Parker Solar Probe and one giant leap for solar science. Just as landing on the Moon allowed scientists to understand how it was formed, touching the very stuff the Sun is made of will help scientists uncover critical information about our closest star and its influence on the solar system. 

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Israel, UAE Agree to Collaborate on Lunar, Earth Observation & Satellite Missions

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will collaborate on a mission to the moon, analyze data from an Israeli-French Earth observation satellite, and launch a joint education satellite under a landmark agreement signed last week to cooperate on a range of space projects, the Israel Space Agency (ISA) announced.

The two nations will collaborate on Genesis 2, an $100 million Israeli mission to launch an orbiter to the moon and deploy landers at two different locations on the lunar surface. The mission, which is to be half funded with foreign contributions, is scheduled to launch in 2024.

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UAE, CU Boulder to Team on Mission to Explore Venus and Asteroids

Venus hides a wealth of information that could help us better understand Earth and exoplanets. NASA’s JPL is designing mission concepts to survive the planet’s extreme temperatures and atmospheric pressure. This image is a composite of data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Fresh off the success of the Hope Mars orbiter, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric Science and Physics (LASP) will team again on an ambitious mission to explore Venus and seven asteroids.

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Rocket Lab Provides First Half 2021 Financial Results

Electron launches with OHB satellite. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)
  • Revenue of $29.5M, representing 237% Year-on-Year revenue growth, accompanied by an expansion in gross margins from negative 67% to a positive 13%.
  • Increasing diversity in revenue, with Space Systems contributing 18% of total revenue in the period, compared to 3% in the prior year, accompanied with gross margins of 65%.
  • Backlog grew 136% Year-on-Year to $141.4 million as of June 30, 2021 as compared to backlog of $59.9 million as of June 30, 2020.

LONG BEACH, Calif., September 08, 2021 (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today reviewed financial results for the six months ended June 30, 2021, which were previously released in its 8-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on August 31, 2021.

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NASA Awards $750,000 in Competition to Convert Carbon Dioxide into Sugar

Team Air Company prepares materials for judging. (Credits: NASA/Amanda Adams)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — On Earth, plants and ocean microbes use sunlight to turn carbon dioxide, or CO2, into sugars for energy. Humans don’t have that ability, at least not yet.

On Mars, there aren’t plants and oceans, but there is an abundance of CO2. NASA’s CO2 Conversion Challenge invited the public to come up with ways to convert this principle component of the Martian atmosphere into sugar, which astronauts could use to make useful products – anything from plastics, adhesives, and fuels to food and medicine.

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Rocket Lab Spacecraft Confirmed for Mars as NASA Greenlights ESCAPADE Small Satellite Interplanetary Mission

The twin EscaPADE satellites will fly to Mars and circle the planet in complementary orbits to sample the hot ionized plasma (cross section in yellow and green) and magnetic fields (blue lines) to understand how Mars’ atmosphere escapes into space. (Credit: UC Berkeley/Robert Lillis)

The ESCAPADE mission – led by the University of California Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory to study Mars’ magnetosphere – with two Rocket Lab Photon spacecraft has received NASA approval to move toward launch.

LONG BEACH, Calif., 23 August, 2021 (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab, a global leader in dedicated launch and space systems, today announced it will begin final mission design and commence manufacturing two interplanetary Photon spacecraft for a science mission to Mars, delivering Decadal-class science at a fraction of the cost of typical planetary missions.

 The Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (ESCAPADE) mission will orbit two Rocket Lab-built Photon spacecraft around Mars to understand the structure, composition, variability, and dynamics of Mars’ unique hybrid magnetosphere. The mission will also support crewed exploration programs like Artemis through improved solar storm prediction.

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Rocket Lab, Vector Acquisition Set Date for Vote on Merging, Going Public

Electron launches with OHB satellite. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Vector Acquisition Corp. PR) — Vector Acquisition Corporation (Nasdaq: VACQ) (“Vector”), a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company backed by leading technology investor Vector Capital, today announced that its Annual Meeting of the Company’s shareholders (“Annual Meeting”) to consider the previously announced business combination (“Business Combination”) with Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (“Rocket Lab”), a global leader in launch and space systems, has been set for August 20, 2021. Shareholders of record as of the close of business on June 30, 2021 (“Record Date”) are eligible to vote at the Annual Meeting.

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Launch 2020: A Year of Transition for Japan

The United Arab Emirates’ Hope Probe took off at 2:58 p.m. PDT on July 19 from a launch site in Japan, headed for Mars to study its atmosphere. (Credit: MHI Launch Services via YouTube)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a typical year for Japan with four successful launches and no failures. Japan has averaged 3.8 launches annually over the past decade. Last year also saw a Japanese astronaut become the first foreigner to fly aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

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SwRI Awarded Lunar Lander Investigation Contract

This photograph of a nearly full Moon was taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft at a point above 70 degrees east longitude. Mare Crisium, the circular, dark-colored area near the center, is near the eastern edge of the Moon as viewed from Earth. (Credits: NASA)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, June 21, 2021 (Southwest Research Institute PR) — To advance understanding of Earth’s nearest neighbor, NASA has selected three new lunar investigations, including a payload suite led by Southwest Research Institute. The Lunar Interior Temperature and Materials Suite (LITMS) is one of two packages that will land on the far side of the Moon, a first for the agency, as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services, or CLPS, initiative.

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