DARPA Completes Key Milestone on Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Program

Artist’s illustration of hypersonic missile. (Credit: DARPA)

Risk reduction milestone paves way for airborne tests this year

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) today announced successful completion of captive carry tests of two variants of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) and are ready to proceed to first free-flight testing within the calendar year. The joint Agency and Service effort seeks to develop and demonstrate critical technologies to enable an effective and affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile.

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USSPACECOM to Welcome New Command Senior Enlisted Leader

Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott H. Stalker (Credit: US Space Command)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Aug. 27, 2020 (US Space Command PR) — U.S. Marine Corps Master  Gunnery Sgt. Scott H. Stalker is set to assume responsibility of U.S. Space Command from U.S. Space Force Chief Master Sgt. Roger A. Towberman during an Aug. 28 ceremony.

The Department of Defense’s 11th combatant command is getting a new command senior enlisted leader eight days after U.S. Army Gen. James H. Dickinson assumed command from USSF Gen. John W. Raymond.

Stalker, a native of Lebanon, New Hampshire, previously served as the CSEL for U.S. Cyber Command and National Security Agency.

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Northrop Grumman Increases Collaboration with Space and Missile Systems Center by Implementing Agile Methodology

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (Northrop Grumman PR) — Northrop Grumman’s Enhanced Polar System – Recapitalization (EPS-R) Control and Planning Segment (CAPS) program is essential to provide continuous coverage for secure, jam-resistant, strategic and tactical communications in the Earth’s North Polar Region.

As the company works on the program that facilitates military satellite communications, the team is implementing Agile methodologies to better enable increased customer collaboration, rapid adjustment to changing mission requirements and quality-enhanced efficiency. The program is working to move quickly and efficiently in bringing capabilities when and where the U.S. Space Force needs them most.

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Fiber Optic Sensing System Readied for Space Use

Allen Parker, Fiber Optic Sensing System (FOSS) senior research engineer at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, and Jonathan Lopez show how FOSS in aeronautics is used on a wing to determine its shape and stress on its structure. (Credits: NASA/Ken Ulbrich)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA will soon test an enhanced system that can take thousands of measurements along a fiber optic wire about the thickness of a human hair for use in space. In the future the technology could monitor spacecraft systems during missions to the Moon and landings on Mars.

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DIU Awards Antenna Contract to Isotropic Systems for Trial Optical Beamforming Technology

READING, UK, 18 May 2020 (Isotropic Systems PR) – Isotropic Systems, a leading developer of transformational broadband terminal technologies, today announced an antenna evaluation and development contract with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to test the ability of its patented multi-beam antennas to unlock high-powered bandwidth aboard next-gen Naval vessels at sea.

As the U.S. Navy expands the size and communications capabilities of its global fleet, the DIU is reviewing Isotropic Systems’ patented beamforming antenna technologies and circuits as an enabler to fuse multi-band, multi-orbit commercial and military capacity to deliver intelligence data at the tactical edge over a single platform.

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Test Version of Orion Capsule Recovered in the Pacific Ocean

Seahawks from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, also known as Wildcards, fly by a test version of an Orion capsule during Underway Recovery Test-8 in the Pacific Ocean. (Credit: NASA/Tony Gray)

With the USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26) in the distance, helicopters from the HSC-23 squadron fly by a test version of an Orion capsule during Underway Recovery Test-8 in the Pacific Ocean. During this first full mission profile test of the recovery procedures for Artemis I, NASA’s Landing and Recovery team met their objectives.

Artemis I, formerly Exploration Mission-1, will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s Deep Space Exploration Systems: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System rocket, with the newly upgraded Exploration Ground Systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. 

The primary goal of the mission is to assure a safe crew module entry, descent, splashdown and recovery. Artemis will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.

SMC, NASA Deploy DoD’s STPSat-4 From ISS

Space Test Program Satellite-4 (STPSat-4) reaches its final orbit after deploying from the International Space Station, Jan. 28, 2020. (Credit: NASA)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USAF SMC PR) — The United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and its mission partner, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), successfully deployed the Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program Satellite-4 (STPSat‑4) from the International Space Station at 11:20 p.m., Jan. 28, 2020.   

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NRL Camera Aboard NASA Spacecraft Confirms Asteroid Phenomenon

An image from the Wide-Field Imager for Solar Probe (WISPR), a U.S. Naval Research Laboratory-built camera, displays the dust trail of asteroid 3200 Phaethon near the Sun on Nov. 5, 2018. The trail is visible for the first time in the region where the white dots are omitted. 3200 Phaethon’s orbit intersects Earth’s orbit every year, and results in the Geminid Meteor shower. (Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Brendan Gallagher and Guillermo Stenborg)

WASHINGTON (NRL PR) – A U.S. Naval Research Laboratory-built camera mounted on the NASA Parker Solar Probe revealed an asteroid dust trail that has eluded astronomers for decades.

Karl Battams, a computational scientist in NRL’s Space Science Division, discussed the results from the camera called Wide-Field Imager for Solar Probe (WISPR) on Dec. 11 during a NASA press conference.

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Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Win Satellite-related Contracts

Lockheed Martin has won an U.S. Air Force contract worth up to $3.3 billion for operations, sustainment and enhancement activities to support the Advanced Extremely High Frequency, Milstar and Defense Satellite Communications System III programs.

Raytheon has won a U.S. Navy contract worth $61.5 million for Global Positioning System-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Service (GPNTS) software support.

Full details on the contracts are below.

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The Rocket Age and the Space Age

V-2 and Sputnik

The V-2 rocket and a model of Sputnik 1.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The first successful launch of Germany’s A-4 ballistic missile and the orbiting of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik-1, took place 15 years and one day apart. The two achievements are related in more ways than their proximity on the calendar.

On Oct. 3, 1942, an A-4 developed by Wernher von Braun and his German Army team reached an altitude of 85 to 90 km (52.8 to 55.9 miles) after launch from Peenemunde on the Baltic Coast.

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NASA Awards ECLSS & Human Health Small Business Contracts

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

NASA has selected 10 projects designed to improve life support systems and human health in space for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

Nine of the proposals deal with life support and habitation systems with a tenth involves human research and health maintenance. The two-year SBIR Phase II projects are eligible for up to $750,000 in funding.

Improving life support systems are an important area of research as NASA aims at sending astronauts beyond low Earth orbit to the moon and various deep-space destinations.

Below is a list of selected projects followed by their abstracts.

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Made in Space Selected for 2 NASA SBIR Awards

NASA has selected two proposals from Made in Space focused on producing advanced crystals and high-strength components for funding under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research program. Each two-year Phase II is worth up to $750,000.

The Industrial Crystallization Facility (ICF) would produce “nonlinear optical single crystals and other relatively large material formulations, such as bulk single-crystal thin films and high temperature optical fiber,” according to the proposal.

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Review: Scott Kelly’s Memoir About a Year in Orbit

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery
by Scott Kelly with Margaret Lazarus Dean
Alfred A. Knoff
2017
369 pages

Scott Kelly was failing out of college when he spotted a book at the campus store that would utterly change his life: The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe’s classic tale of Cold War-era test pilots and the Mercury astronauts.

As he read Wolfe’s prose, Kelly realized that flying jets had the same type of adrenaline rush he felt working as an EMT, which had been the only thing he had excelled at thus far. He decided he would pursue a career as an U.S. Navy aviator.

Decades later, he would call Wolfe in the midst of a year-long stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to thank him and ask for advice about how to write a book of his own.

Endurance is the result. The memoir doesn’t live up to Wolfe’s stylistic brilliance, but what the book lacks in style it more than makes up for in inspiration.
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A Closer Look at National Space Council User’s Advisory Group Nominees


So, I finally had a chance to go through folks that Vice President Mike Pence nominated to serve on the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group.

Below is my attempt to break down the 29 nominees by category. It’s far from perfect because several of them could easily be listed under multiple categories. But, here’s my best shot at it.

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Apollo 12 Astronaut Dick Gordon Passes Away at 88

Astronaut Richard “Dick” Gordon in his Apollo spacesuit. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Former NASA astronaut Richard Gordon, command module pilot on Apollo 12, the second lunar landing mission, passed away on Nov. 6, 2017.

Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement on Gordon’s passing: “NASA and the nation have lost one of our early space pioneers. We send our condolences to the family and loved ones of Gemini and Apollo astronaut Richard Gordon, a hero from NASA’s third class of astronauts.”
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