Artemis I Carries the Future of NASA with It

The Space Launch System rocket fairing with ESA and NASA logos on the launchpad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. The new ESA logo and NASA’s ‘worm’ logo will be along for the ride on the first full mission of the powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Of the six launches known to be scheduled to close out August, there’s only one – Artemis I — that truly matters in any real sense. The others will be duly recorded but little remembered in what could be the busiest launch year in human history.


The Upcoming Week in Launches: Artemis I and Some Other Ones

Artemis I rocket rolls out to the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal on June 6, 2022. (Credit: NASA)

The Wikipedia orbital launch page lists six launches to close out August. The big one, of course, is NASA’s Artemis I mission next Monday. The others, not so momentous but still worth listing.

Disclaimer: This schedule is subject to change without notice. Parabolic Arc takes no responsibility for delays, changes, additions or what have you. And, as always, no wagering.

Tuesday, August 23

Launch Vehicle: Long March 11
Launch Site: Xichang Satellite Launch Center
Launch Company: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)
Payload: TBA

Wednesday, August 24

Launch Vehicle: Long March 2D 
Launch Site: Taiyuan Xichang Satellite Launch Center
Launch Company: CASC
Payload: TBA

Saturday, August 27

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch Site: Vandenberg Space Force Base
Launch Company: SpaceX
Payloads: 46 Starlink broadband satellites

Sunday, August 28

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
Launch Company: SpaceX
Payloads: 53 Starlink broadband satellites

Monday, August 29

Launch Vehicle: Space Launch System Block 1
Launch Site: Kennedy LC-39B
Launch Window: 8:33-10:33 a.m. EDT (12:33-14:33 UTC)
Launching Agency: NASA
Payloads: Orion spacecraft and 10 secondary payloads

Artemis I Secondary Payloads

ArgoMoonItalian Space AgencyHeliocentricSpacecraft will demonstrate capacity of CubeSats to conduct precise maneuvers in deep space by providing detailed images of the SLS’s Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage 
BioSentinelNASAHeliocentricSpacecraft will use budding yeast to detect, measure, and compare the impact of deep space radiation on DNA repair
CuSP NASAHeliocentricSpace weather measurements
EQUULEUSUniversity of TokyoEarth-moon L26U CubeSat will measure the distribution of plasma around Earth
LunaH-MapNASASelenocentricLunar polar orbiter will search for evidence of frozen water deposits
Lunar IceCubeNASASelenocentricLunar orbiter will search for frozen water deposits
LunIRLockheed Martin SpaceHeliocentricDemonstration technology to collect surface spectroscopy and thermography
Near-Earth Asteroid ScoutNASAHeliocentricTechnology demonstration of solar sail to rendezvous with asteroid
OMOTENASHIJapan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)SelenocentricSmallest vehicle to attempt lunar lander
Team MilesFluid and Reason, LLCHeliocentricTechnology demonstration of plasma thrusters

Late August       

Launch Vehicle: Kuaizhou 1A
Launch Site: Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center
Launch Company: ExPace
Payloads: Centispace-1 S3 and Centispace-1 S4 navigation satellites

University of Tokyo Spin-off Pale Blue to Exhibit Propulsion Technology at Small Satellite Conference

3 satellites equipped with Pale Blue’s thrusters. (Credit: Pale Blue)
  • Pale Blue Inc. (“Pale Blue”) will exhibit at the Small Satellite Conference 2022 (August 6 – 11 at Utah State University)
  • Dr. Asakawa (CEO) will speak at the technical presentation, held on Wednesday, August 10th
  • Pale Blue (booth number 49) will showcase water-based hybrid thruster for small satellites planned for the world-first space demonstration

LOGAN, Utah — Pale Blue will showcase a 100kg-satellite mockup equipped with the water resistojet for the first time. Furthermore, this exhibit will feature the world’s first Multiple Water Propulsion Systems, which is scheduled to be demonstrated in space for the first time by JAXA’s Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-3 by March 2023, and the Water Resistojet for small satellites that features high thrust.


Space-enabled 5G Links Japan and Europe

PARIS (ESA PR) — Engineers have connected Japan and Europe via space-enabled next-generation 5G telecommunication links. It is the first time that such an intercontinental connection has been established between Europe and Japan.

Next-generation 5G technology is poised to provide fast and high-volume data connectivity to fuel the digital transformation of society. When people and objects are travelling internationally on aircraft or ships, telecommunications satellites will play a crucial role in keeping them connected. International connectivity – for example, between a localised 5G network in a company’s head office and those in its subsidiary offices around the globe – could also use satellites for communication.


Two More Artemis I Deep Space CubeSats Prepare for Launch

Members of the EQUULEUS (EQUilibriUm Lunar-Earth point 6U Spacecraft) team prepare their CubeSat to be loaded in the Space Launch System’s Orion stage adapter for launch on the Artemis I mission. This CubeSat, developed jointly by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the University of Tokyo, will help scientists understand the radiation environment in the region of space around Earth called the plasmasphere. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Two additional secondary payloads that will travel to deep space on Artemis I, the first flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft, are ready for launch.


Space BD Joins University of Tokyo, Clark Memorial High School to Develop & Operate Satellite

Astronaut Naoko Yamazaki serving as the project ambassador

TOKYO and HOKKAIDO, Japan (Space BD PR) – Clark Memorial International High School (Clark International), Space BD Inc., and the University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Engineering announced the start of a new education project, called the Space Education Project,  focusing on satellite development. Under  this project, the three organizations aim to foster leaders for our future society. The Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki is also involved as the project ambassador.


Discovery of the Most Primitive Boulders on Ryugu: Observational Results from the Asteroid Explorer, Hayabusa2, Published in Nature Astronomy

Asteroid Ryugu photographed by Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft. (Credit: JAXA)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Rikkyo University
The University of Tokyo
Kochi University
Chiba Institute of Technology
Maebashi Institute of Technology
Hokkaido University of Education
Nagoya University

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Research results from the exploration of Ryugu by the asteroid explorer, Hayabusa2, have been published in the British online journal, Nature Astronomy, on May 24, 2021 (May 25 JST). Assistant Professor Naoya Sakatani (Rikkyo University) from the Hayabusa2 science team is the lead author in this research.


Japan’s ImPACT Program Creates Compact, Lightweight Technology for Compact Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellites

StriX-α synthetic aperture radar image of South Florida on February 8th, 2021 around 12:00 (Japan time). (Credit: Synspective)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — It has been said that it is difficult to reduce the size and weight of satellite-mounted synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology, which has been a major technical issue.

At JAXA, based on the SAR technology accumulated in the Earth observation projects so far, the results started from the basic research on the miniaturization and weight reduction of this technology are summarized. 

We have raised the level of technology to practical application in collaboration with Synspective, the Tokyo Institute of Technology Hirokawa Laboratory, Keio University Shirasaka Laboratory and the University of Tokyo Nakasuka/Funase Laboratory.


Space BD to Provide the Smallsat Deployment From ISS for ArkEdgeSpace

TOKYO (Space BD PR) — Space BD Inc., the leading Japanese space startup providing access to space, announced that it would provide satellite deployment service from the International Space Station to ArkEdge Space for their satellite “NSPO-01.” NSPO-01 is an earth observation satellite developed by ArkEdge Space, the National Space Organization (NSPO) of Taiwan, and the University of Tokyo. It is the first mission for Space BD to work with NSPO.

ArkEdge Space (former company name: Space Edge Lab) is founded in 2018 as a spinout of Nakasuka-Funase Laboratory at the University of Tokyo, the Department of Aerospace Engineering. This time, ArkEdge Space awarded the contract by NSPO as co-researcher with Nakasuka laboratory to develop, launch, insert in orbit, and lead the initial operations of a 6U smallsatellite (100.0×226.3×366.0mm).


Space BD to Provide Small Satellite Deployment Service from ISS to ASTROFLASH

TOKYO (Space BD PR) — Space BD Inc., the leading space startup in Japan that provides access to space using the International Space Station Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” and rideshares on Japan’s flagship launch vehicle “H3,” announced that it will provide SmallSatellite deployment service from the International Space Station to ASTROFLASH Inc. ASTROFLASH is a startup that aims to bring space closer to everyday life through the world’s first satellite platform for visual attraction. The two companies have signed the launch service contract.


A Sunburned Ryugu: Asteroid Surface Weathered by the Sun

Artificial crater on asteroid Ryugu (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — New information about the surface and orbit of Ryugu has been uncovered from analyzing data obtained during touchdown and the global observations performed by the asteroid explorer, Hayabusa2. These findings have been published in the electronic version of the US scientific journal Science, on May 7, 2020 (May 8, JST: Morota et al, 2002). The paper was led by Associate Professor Tomokatsu Morota from the University of Tokyo and member of the Hayabusa2 science team.


Bacteria in Rock Deep Under Sea Inspire New Search for Life on Mars

Aerobic bacteria live densely packed into tunnels of clay minerals found in this sample of solid rock, collected from 122 meters beneath the seafloor. Image B is 1,000 times greater magnification than Image A. The left-side photo in each image was taken using normal light and the right-side photo was taken using fluorescent light. The solid basalt rock is gray, the clay minerals are orange, and the bacterial cells are green spheres. (Credit: Suzuki et al. 2020, DOI: 10.1038/s42003-020-0860-1, CC BY 4.0)

Microbes live in tiny clay-filled cracks in solid rock millions of years old

TOKYO (University of Tokyo PR) — Newly discovered single-celled creatures living deep beneath the seafloor have given researchers clues about how they might find life on Mars. These bacteria were discovered living in tiny cracks inside volcanic rocks after researchers persisted over a decade of trial and error to find a new way to examine the rocks.


Hayabusa2 Images Ryugu’s Surface at Highest Resolution Yet

Figure 1. Image of Ryugu captured by the ONC-T at an altitude of about 64m. Image was taken on September 21, 2018 at around 13:04 JST.This is the highest resolution photograph obtained of the surface of Ryugu. Bottom left is a large boulder. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University, AIST).

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — When Hayabusa2 descended towards Ryugu for the MINERVA-II1 deployment operation, the ONC-T (Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic) captured images at the highest resolution to date.

This next figure shows the location of Figure 1 on Ryugu.

Figure 2. Region of the highest resolution image. Yellow boxes correspond to the region in Figure 1. (Left) The region is shown on the ONC-T global image of Ryugu. (Right) ONC-W1 image, taken at 70 m height. 2018-09-21 13:02(JST). (Image credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University, AIST).

Highest resolution image obtained by Hayabusa

Figure 3. High resolution image of the surface of asteroid Itokawa photographed by Hayabusa. “D” is taken from an altitude of 63m. It is thought that the so-called “Muses Sea” (official name “MUSES-C Regio”) is covered with a “gravel” of granules with diameters from a few mm to few cm. (From Yano et al, Science Vol 312 2, June 2006)

Hayabusa2 Arrives at Asteroid Ryugu

Asteroid Ryugu photographed by Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo and collaborators)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — JAXA confirmed Hayabusa2, JAXA’s asteroid explorer rendezvoused with Ryugu, the target asteroid.

On June 27, 2018, JAXA operated Hayabusa2 chemical propulsion thrusters for the spacecraft’s orbit control.*

The confirmation of the Hayabusa2 rendezvous made at 9:35 a.m. (Japan Standard Time, JST) is based on the following data analyses;

  • ・The thruster operation of Hayabusa2 occurred nominally
  • ・The distance between Hayabusa2 and Ryugu is approximately 20 kilometers
  • ・Hayabusa2 is able to maintain a constant distance to asteroid Ryugu
  • ・The status of Hayabusa2 is normal

From this point, we are planning to conduct exploratory activities in the vicinity of the asteroid, including scientific observation of asteroid Ryugu and surveying the asteroid for sample collection.

*Hayabusa2 operation hours: 7:00 a.m. (JST) through 3:00 p.m. (JST), June 27. The thruster operation was pre-programmed in the event sequence earlier on the day and the command was automatically executed.

Smallsat 2016: Japan Increases Participation in Conference

Ikaros solar sail CubeSat (Credit: JAXA)
Ikaros solar sail CubeSat (Credit: JAXA)

Japan increased its presence at the Small Satellite Conference in Utah this week, with 21 organizations displaying their capabilities and a presentation by the University of Tokyo about the nation’s smallsat programs.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan (METI) participated in the conference for the first time, setting up a booth where the Japanese space agency JAXA, 18 companies and two universities advertised their capabilities (see the list below).