Virgin Orbit Set to Launch 7 Satellites Tonight

UPDATE: Virgin Orbit says the launch was scrubbed because the LauncherOne “propellant temperature was slightly out of bounds.” The company has not announced a new launch date.

Virgin Orbit Launch

Launch Vehicles: LauncherOne/Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl
Payloads: 7 small satellites
Customer: U.S. Space Force
Launch Site: Pacific Ocean off California
Launch Origination: Mojave Air and Space Port | Mojave, Calif.
Launch Window: 10 p.m. PDT on June 29 | 1 a.m. EDT/0500 UTC on June 30
Livestream: 9:45 p.m. PDT on June 29 | 12:45 p.m. EDT/0445 UTC on June 30
Mission Name: Straight Up
Mission Number: STP-28A

Mission Overview

The launch will carry seven satellites from multiple government agencies that are experiments intended to demonstrate novel modular satellite bus, space domain awareness, and adaptive radio frequency technologies.

The U.S. Space Force has procured this launch for the Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP), with payloads provided by the DoD Space Test Program (STP). 

Payloads

CTIM-FD: CubeSat will measure radiation Earth receives from the Sun. (University of Colorado at Boulder)

Lonestar: U.S. Army Space & Missile Defense Command satellite focused on experimental tactical space support.

MISR-B: spacecraft will demonstrate two-way communications with ground devices and experiment with methods to leverage small satellite capabilities. (Department of Defense)

NACHOS-2: will allow scientists to detect, map, and quantify Earth’s trace gasses more easily, which is critical for volcanology and climate change research. (Los Alamos National Laboratory)

Recurve: satellite propels CubeSat technology forward by demonstrating adaptive radio frequency system capability from low Earth orbit, evaluating mesh network behavior across multiple nodes to route data wherever it needs to go. (U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory)

Slingshot 1: CubeSat will advance on-orbit experiments using modular & autonomous technologies on next-gen satellite systems with SatCat5, a data interface which implements Ethernet-type communication between payloads using low power serial communications. (The Aerospace Corporation)

NASA Rockets Launch from Australia to Seek Habitable Star Conditions

The closest star system to Earth is the famous Alpha Centauri group. At a distance of 4.3 light-years, this system is made up of the binary formed by the stars Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B, plus the faint red dwarf Alpha Centauri C, also known as Proxima Centauri. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has given us this stunning view of the bright Alpha Centauri A (on the left) and Alpha Centauri B (on the right). (Credits: ESA/NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On the heels of a successful launch on June 26, NASA is set to launch two more sounding rockets from northern Australia during the first half of July. These missions will help astronomers understand how starlight influences a planet’s atmosphere, possibly making or breaking its ability to support life as we know it.

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NASA Selects 5 Solar Sail R&D Projects for Funding

Illustration of NASA’s NEA Scout with the solar sail deployed as it flies by its asteroid destination. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected five research and development projects for funding that are focused on improving the performance of solar sails, which use solar photons (sunlight) to propel themselves.

NASA selected the five projects under the space agency’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, which partners companies with academia. Each Phase I award is worth up to $150,000.

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Astronauts May One Day Drink Water from Ancient Moon Volcanoes

Scientists believe that the moon’s snakelike Schroeter’s Valley was created by lava flowing over the surface. (Image Credit: NASA Johnson)

BOULDER (University of Colorado at Boulder PR) — Billions of years ago, a series of volcanic eruptions broke loose on the moon, blanketing hundreds of thousands of square miles of the orb’s surface in hot lava. Over the eons, that lava created the dark blotches, or maria, that give the face of the moon its familiar appearance today.

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NASA Selects Investigation Teams to Join Geospace Dynamics Mission

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2022 (NASA PR) — NASA has selected three investigation teams to join the agency’s Geospace Dynamics Constellation (GDC) mission science team in studying Earth’s upper atmosphere, as well as five additional investigations that will be under consideration for inclusion in the mission.

GDC is a coordinated group of satellites that will provide the first direct global measurements of the dynamic and complex region of space enveloping Earth – known as the ionosphere and thermosphere (I-T) region. The constellation’s ability to simultaneously study processes operating across a range of temporal and spatial scales will provide an unprecedented level of understanding of this region. GDC will fundamentally advance scientists’ understanding of this interface to Earth’s space environment much like early weather satellites did for global weather systems. The three GDC investigations selected for flight have a combined budget of $149 million to design and deliver their instruments to the mission.

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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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AFRL/AFOSR to Conduct Sound Rocket Launch at NASA Wallops for Hypersonics Research

Sounding rocket lifts off from Wallops Flight Facility. (Credit: NASA/Allison Stancil-Ervin)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – A launch of a two-stage suborbital sounding rocket for the Air Force Research Laboratory/Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s BOLT II flight experiment is set to take place the evening of March 21 at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Live coverage of the launch will be provided on NASA Wallops YouTube channel. Officials at NASA Wallops project the launch to be visible anywhere from 10 to 120 seconds from parts of seven states: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia as well as Washington, D.C.

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NASA Funds Research into Satellite Swarm to Study Space Weather Effects in LEO

Graphic depiction of In-situ Neutral-Optics Velocity Analyzer for Thermospheric Exploration (INOVATE). (Credits: Marcin Pilinski)j

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA is funding research into a swarm of satellites that would enable scientists to measure the impacts of space weather in low-Earth orbit.

The space agency awarded a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase 1 grant worth $175,000 to Marcin Pilinski of University of Colorado Boulder for the In-situ Neutral-Optics Velocity Analyzer for Thermospheric Exploration (INOVATE) project.

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NASA Selects Futuristic Space Technology Concepts for Early Study

Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — An astronaut steps into a body scanner and, hours later, walks on Mars in a custom-made spacesuit, breathing oxygen that was extracted from Mars’ carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere. On Venus, an inflatable bird-like drone swoops through the sky, studying the planet’s atmosphere and weather patterns. Ideas like these are currently science fiction, but they could one day become reality, thanks to a new round of grants awarded by NASA.

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NASA Invests in Tech Development From Small Businesses, Researchers

A new round of awards for small business and research partnerships will advance technology development. A partnership between Interstel Technologies, Inc., and University of Hawaii at Manoa will develop a system for guiding swarms of vehicles, such as rovers, illustrated here. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program has awarded $15 million to U.S. small businesses and research institutions to continue developing technologies in areas ranging from aeronautics to science and space exploration.

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ISRO Launches Earth Observation Satellite, Two Secondary Payloads

PSLV rocket launches the EOS-4 Earth observation satellite. (Credit: ISRO)

SRIHARIKOTA, India (ISRO PR) — India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C52 injected Earth Observation Satellite EOS-04, into an intended sun synchronous polar orbit of 529 km altitude at 06:17 hours IST on February 14, 2022 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, Sriharikota.

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New Deep Learning Method Adds 301 Planets to Kepler’s Total Count

This artist’s illustration shows the planetary system K2-138, which was discovered by citizen scientists in 2017 using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope. [Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)]

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Scientists recently added a whopping 301 newly validated exoplanets to the total exoplanet tally. The throng of planets is the latest to join the 4,569  already validated planets orbiting a multitude of distant stars. How did scientists discover such a huge number of planets, seemingly all at once? The answer lies with a new deep neural network called ExoMiner.

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NASA Goddard Helps Ensure Asteroid Deflector Hits Target, Predicts and Will Observe Impact Results

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft at Didymos. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Although the chance of an asteroid impacting Earth is small, even a relatively small asteroid of about 500 feet (about 150 meters) across carries enough energy to cause widespread damage around the impact site. NASA leads efforts in the U.S. and worldwide both to detect and track potentially hazardous asteroids and to study technologies to mitigate or avoid impacts on Earth. If an asteroid were discovered and determined to be on a collision course with Earth, one response could be to launch a “kinetic impactor” – a high-velocity spacecraft that would deflect the asteroid by ramming into it, altering the asteroid’s orbit slightly so that it misses Earth. NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will be the first mission to demonstrate asteroid deflection using a kinetic impactor. 

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NASA TV to Air IXPE Prelaunch Activities, Launch

NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission is the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from a variety of cosmic sources, such as black holes and neutron stars. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission, the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from a variety of cosmic sources, such as black holes and neutron stars.

IXPE is scheduled to launch no earlier than 1 a.m. EST Thursday, Dec. 9, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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AFRL Selects 10 Universities for Prestigious Satellite Program

Graphic representation of Arachne, the first solar power beaming experiment for the Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations & Research Project. (Credit: AFRL)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory’s University Nanosatellite Program (UNP) has selected 10 universities to participate in the upcoming 2-year partnership to design, fabricate and test small satellites.

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