Join the National Air and Space Museum Thursday, April 30 at 8 pm EDT for a YouTube concert event, sharing songs about space and isolation to celebrate how extreme situations can bring out the very best in us all and why there’s no challenge we can’t face together. This recorded concert, hosted by Tested’s Adam Savage, will feature special guests and performances by Sting, Clipping, Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, Dan Deacon, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Valerie June, Lukas Nelson, Grace Potter, and Vagabon.
We know that people love space. And it’s not just because of Moon rocks and pretty pictures of the cosmos. Space exploration is an extraordinary expression of humanity and can inspire us like nothing else.
Naturally, there are a lot of great songs about spaceships and astronauts—about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances And many artists use solitude to fuel creativity and experimentation. We could all use a little bit of that inspiration right now. So while our museum remains closed to the public, we want to share some songs that inspire us with viewers at home.
The satellite – Quetzal-1 – is Guatemala’s first and will unlock new possibilities for the country and help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The primary objective of the mission is to test a multispectral sensor to acquire remote sensing data for natural resource management. The sensor could be used to monitor water quality in inland water bodies, helping to achieve SDG Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation.
The project supports SDG Goal 9 – industry, innovation and infrastructure – helping Guatemala develop its capacities in aerospace engineering and sparking innovations, such as the sensor created for the satellite. Women were an integral part of the winning team that engineered the satellite, contributing to SDG Goal 5 – gender equality.
The project has been made possible thanks to the strong collaboration of several entities: UNOOSA, JAXA, UVG, the UK Space Agency, the University of Colorado, the University of Chile, TEC Costa Rica, and the University of Würzburg among others. This is in line with SDG 17, partnership for the goals: international collaboration can unlock new frontiers in leveraging space for development.
The KiboCUBE programme offers the opportunity for institutions from developing countries to develop a cube satellite to be deployed from the ISS Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo). The programme, which recently completed its fifth round, enabled Kenya to deploy their first satellite in 2018, 1KUNS-PF, developed by a team from the University of Nairobi.
“The NASA grant is just for the launch, so we have still got to supply and manufacture the satellite ourselves,” said [Paul] Kӧttering, a junior majoring in applied mathematics and physics. “Luckily, the cost of CubeSats has dropped significantly over the past three to four years. The communications systems, power systems, control systems — a lot of those are just off-the-shelf, commercial parts, so they are quite cheap. The payload itself is the more expensive item, but again, a lot of that comes from in-kind donations from companies.”
Called QubeSat, or quantum CubeSat, the group’s satellite will test a new type of gyroscope based on quantum mechanical interactions in imperfect diamonds. The diamond gyroscope was invented in the UC Berkeley laboratory of physicist Dmitry Budker, a Professor of the Graduate School who is now also at the Helmholtz Institute at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.
The student team is part of an undergraduate aerospace club called Space Technologies at Cal (STAC) that has already flown experiments aboard balloons and the International Space Station — an impressive record for a group that started only four years ago. Some of the group’s graduates have gone on to work for SpaceX, Boeing and other aerospace companies.
Boasting about 65 members from a range of majors, including physics, math, engineering, chemistry and environmental sciences, they’re currently working on four projects they hope will push innovative new space technologies.
Teams from Cougs in Space are working together to build a satellite that will be launched from the International Space Station by this October.
Mathew Bauer, junior computer science major and president of Cougs in Space, said the satellite is a 10-centimeter cube, or “CubeSat.” It will contain cameras to monitor conditions and pea seeds germinating, which means growing in an internal chamber.
“The germination of pea seeds, the germination of seeds in general, is something that has never really been done outside of the International Space Station,” Bauer said. “They’ve never seen how seeds react in space.”
Bauer said Cougs in Space has been building the satellite for about one and a half to two years.
There are many teams responsible for different parts of the satellite, he said. The structure team builds the body of the satellite, the payload team is responsible for the pea seeds and the germination chamber and the communication team will receive data from the satellite when it is in space. Other teams are responsible for electrical systems, computing and controls, among other functions.
CougSat-1 will got to the ISS aboard a Cargo Dragon this fall and be deployed into orbit via Nanoracks.
Xplore Inc., a commercial space exploration company providing Space as a Service™ today announced they and their teammates won a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase III award for a two-year, $2M NASA grant to further mature the Solar Gravity Lens Focus (SGLF) architecture to image planets in orbit around distant stars starting with a Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM). Dr. Slava G. Turyshev, a NIAC Fellow and Senior Research Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is the Principal Investigator leading the SGLF mission which includes Xplore, JPL and The Aerospace Corporation. The SGLF mission study is only the third Phase III award granted in the NIAC program ever.
Reaching the focus region where the Sun’s gravity acts like a magnifying lens to the background sky is an immense technological challenge. This region, the SGLF, is over 500 times the distance between Earth and the Sun (547 AU). One Astonomical Unit (AU) is the distance from Earth to the Sun, about 93 million miles (149.5 million km). Even by using our fastest deep space probe, Voyager 1, moving at 11 miles/s (17 km/s) it will take over 150 years to reach just the edge of the SGLF region.
During the previous two NIAC phases nearly every credible propulsion technology was assessed to not only accurately navigate across this vast distance, but also to communicate and operate once at the SGLF — all within a goal of 25 years from launch. To reach the SGLF on a timescale of 25 years requires a propulsion system capable of accelerating a spacecraft to a speed seven times faster than Voyager 1 (> 20 AU/yr or 100 km/s). The resulting propulsion technology was found to meet both the high speed requirement and the proposed architecture of sending many vehicles to the SGLF. This propulsion does not exploit chemical or nuclear reactions, but simply harnesses sunlight reflecting from a solar sail.
As a key enabler for the SGLF mission, Xplore will design the spacecraft for the SGLF’s Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM). The TDM vehicle as pictured is an advanced solar sail design based upon L’Garde’s SunVane concept. The SunVane concept addresses the control, packaging and scalability challenges of traditional large planar solar sails by breaking up the required overall sail area into smaller rotatable vanes distributed across a lightweight truss. Xplore will transition this concept to a prototype design as a first step toward demonstrating the key technologies necessary to achieve the SGLF mission. The goal for the Xplore TDM vehicle using current technologies is to reach speeds in excess of two to three times that of Voyager 1 (5-8 AU/year). At these unprecedented speeds it would allow the TDM vehicle to reach Jupiter in less than a year and Saturn in two years.
Xplore Founder Lisa Rich said,
“Xplore is laying the groundwork to revolutionize the transit speed to destinations in our solar system, and beyond. Once Xplore completes the design, build and first flight of the TDM vehicle, the company would accelerate these missions — perhaps sending one per year, to rapidly advance solar system exploration while providing fast reaction options for flybys of newly-discovered interstellar objects like Oumuamua and high energy intercepts for planetary defense.”
The TDM will enable rapid transit to dramatically transform and ease the exploration of the outer solar system and Kuiper belt objects. At 5-8 AU per year, the TDM vehicle’s extraordinary speed will allow it to reach Voyager in 20 years. To put these distances into perspective, New Horizons launched in 2006 and thirteen years later performed the first flyby of Ultima Thule, a distant Kuiper Belt object that lies 1 billion miles (1.6 billion km) beyond Pluto.
Alan Stern, planetary scientist, Associate Vice President of the Southwest Research Institute and the Principal Investigator on New Horizons mission to Pluto said,
“This is an incredible mission with incredible technology. I am incredibly excited to see it selected for study by NIAC. SGLF offers to revolutionize both exoplanet science and propulsion technology if implemented.”
The design of the TDM spacecraft is led by Xplore Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Darren Garber, who helped develop L’Garde’s SunVane concept and provided operational support to LightSail. Dr. Garber will coordinate with JPL and Aerospace team members to ensure that the TDM vehicle’s design and future flight will represent the next step toward traversing 500 AU in 25 years or less.
Dr. Louis D. Friedman, Xplore Advisor and Co-Founder of The Planetary Society, worked on numerous flagship missions including Mariner, Voyager, Magellan and the Mars Program. A well-known champion of the Halley’s Comet Rendezvous-Solar Sail project back in the 70s with Dr. Carl Sagan, Dr. Friedman said,
“I’m proud that Xplore, led by our colleague Dr. Slava Turyshev, will advance the vision for space exploration Carl Sagan and I put in motion many years ago. The ability to harness the power of the Sun to rapidly transit to distant corners of our universe is a groundbreaking effort that will impact the science community for generations.”
Xplore’s team is comprised entirely of experienced U.S. space professionals who have supported all aspects of the design, development and operations of advanced technology missions for commercial, civil and national security space customers.
For the TDM, Dr. Garber and Xplore’s advanced engineering team will leverage key components, software and system engineering processes employed for its Xcraft™, a high-performance, ESPA-class, multi-mission spacecraft uniquely designed for missions in the inner solar system with a planned lunar radar mapping mission in early 2022. Their expertise will further define the SGLF Phase III study mission and architecture analysis such as using clusters of follow-on TDM vehicles to collectively mitigate risk and lower total system cost. Multiple mass-produced TDM spacecraft offer resiliency and scalability for a future decades-long mission, and the concept could allow other partners to contribute their own set of clustered spacecraft to cooperatively operate during the journey to the solar gravitational lens region in deep space.
“Designing the fastest object ever made in the history of humanity is a challenge worthy of the legacy of Carl Sagan, and we look forward to advancing solar sail technologies with our Advisor, Dr. Lou Friedman. SGLF aligns with Xplore’s long-term vision for frequent, low-cost commercial missions to deep space. The ability to rapidly travel anywhere in the solar system expands our human footprint and will open up new avenues for scientific exploration.”
About Xplore Inc.: Xplore is a Seattle-based company offering Space as a Service™. Xplore provides hosted payloads, communication relay services and exclusive datasets to its customers via the Xcraft™, the company’s multi-mission spacecraft. Xplore’s mission is to expand robotic exploration via commercial missions at and beyond Earth, to the Moon, Mars, Venus, Lagrange points and near-Earth asteroids for national space agencies, national security agencies, sovereign space agencies and universities.
Since its creation just four months ago, the U.S. Space Force has been working to define its priorities, capabilities and culture. As planning continues to stand up new organizations and recruit talent, one key effort has been the development of an acquisition strategy to build the next generation of military space systems.
Questions explored in this webinar:
What are the Space Force’s next steps in its organization?
What has been the impact of COVID-19 on Space Force planning and operations?
What are the Space Force’s proposals to change the acquisition system?
What personnel, resource and budget challenges does the Space Force face going forward?
With growing threats in space, what does the Space Force have to do to build more resilient and defendable space systems?
** Large Constellation Disposal Hazards (with Bill Ailor) – Space Policy Show/Aerospace Corp.
** Whither Human Spaceflight (with James Vedda and John Logsdon) – Space Policy Show/Aerospace Corp.
** Starship prototype SN4 heads for low altitude test flight after passing propellant tank pressure testing. According to Elon Musk, a single Raptor engine will be attached to SN4 this week. After a static firing test on the pad, they will attempt a 150 meter hop:
** Major wing components for Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser delivered:
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader owned by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, uncrated both wings for its Dream Chaser spaceplane this month at the company’s Louisville, Colorado production facility. The wings’ arrival kicks off the much-anticipated integration phase of a beautiful and critical differentiator for Dream Chaser, the world’s only spaceplane owned by a private company and under contract with NASA.
“The wings are here and now we truly have butterflies in anticipation of this integration phase for Dream Chaser,” said SNC President Eren Ozmen. “Our spaceplane looks and functions unlike anything else in space – more technologically advanced but with all the heritage of the space shuttle program in its design. Dream Chaser’s first flight will be a soaring moment for all of us.”
The arrival kicks off the integration of the complex Wing Deployment System (WDS) as part of the continued assembly and integration of the vehicle. With their innovative folding design, the wings are stowed in the fairing ahead of launch. After the launch vehicle separates, the WDS deploys the wings and locks them into place. Dream Chaser’s steeply angled wings function as stabilizers for the lift generated by the body of the vehicle.
“The wings for Dream Chaser presented an interesting design challenge,” said Dream Chaser program director John Curry. “Not only must they survive in low-Earth orbit like a satellite, but they need to be operational in Earth’s atmosphere, like an aircraft.” Just like the structural body for Dream Chaser, the wings were manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Texas, a subcontractor to SNC, and are single bonded composite structures. This state-of-the-art technology saves weight without compromising strength and stiffness.
Dream Chaser is under contract with NASA for at least six cargo resupply and return service missions to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract. The Dream Chaser and attached Shooting Star transport vehicle can carry up to 12,000 pounds of supplies and other cargo, and returns delicate science to Earth with a gentle runway landing.
** Russian Soyuz rocket sends Progress cargo vehicle to the ISS on April 24th from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Rendezvous and docking happened just four hours after liftoff:
The unpiloted Russian ISS Progress 75 cargo ship launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 24 (April 25, Kazakhstan time) atop a Soyuz 2.1a booster, bound on a fast-track, two-orbit trip to deliver some three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the residents of the International Space Station. Less than four hours after launch, the Progress executed an automated docking to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module where it will remain until December.
Welcome to IN DEPTH Episode 8 of What about it!? I’ve had a conversation with Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab. We talked about Electrons mid-air recovery, Photon and why it will change the Small-Sat business and about his plans for the future, including a personal goal to explore Venus to find out, if life could exist in our neighbours atmosphere!
As of this week, there are roughly 300 employees in Firefly, and more hires are coming quickly on the production side, to prepare for the first flight. “The secret to success in this business is staying focused,” Markusic said of Firefly’s efforts to send its first rocket aloft, which has experienced a few delays along the way. (But as any space company will point out, hardware development is difficult and costly, especially when novel technology is involved.)
There have been challenges in developing the Alpha rocket, whose novel features include propellant tanks and structures are built with carbon fiber composites, to reduce cracks and leaks while storing supercooled liquid oxygen. Estimates for the first launch date have been pushed back a few times, and a fire broke out during testing of a rocket stage in January.
But the payoff should be worth it in the long run, chief revenue officer Brad Schneider said during the same interview. Firefly projects that once the rocket starts flying, the company should see a “ramp” in revenues as money flows in from paying customers. Providing the test launch in 2020 goes to plan, revenues should start flowing faster in 2021 and accelerate in 2022, getting to a break even point relatively quickly after the upfront $165 million cost in development, preparing for the first flight and building the first two vehicles.
** Scott Manley reports on the latest Iranian launch of a satellite, achieving orbit successfully for the first time:
Earlier this week Iran made their first successful satellite launch in a long time using a new rocket design named ‘Qased’. What’s most striking is that this is a miliatry launch vehicle using new solid propellent motor which is more advanced than any they’ve flow before, and it might just be the first of many developments of the technology.
** The details of the BPM100 bi-propellant engine designed by the Copenhagen Suborbitals team are illustrated in this snazzy animation:
** Falcon 9 launched another batch of 60 Starlink satellites last week. First stage and both halves of the fairing nosecone were recovered. The number of Starlink satellites in operation now exceeds 400.
Over the weekend, the booster returned to Port Canaveral following its fourth flight:
B1051.4 Looks good. We are a US disabled veteran run, non-profit video production company whose mission is to bring other disabled US Veterans to witness a launch, experience US Space History and become part of our report. Our nonprofit 501(c)(3) is 100% tax deductible, just go to our webpage www.USLaunchReport.com which is merged with www.VeteransSpaceReport.com and find our Donate button. You can help change the life of a US Veteran.
And here is a video report on the return of the two ships with the fairings, which were scooped from the ocean. No attempt was made this time to catch the fairing shells in nets.
Join NSF’s Julia Bergeron (@Julia_bergeron) for an overview of the SpaceX Fleet recovery operations in Port Canaveral, including the return of the fairings from the seventh Starlink launch and JRTI update.
Watch as we place cameras and microphones at SpaceX launchpad 39A during coverage of Starlink 6. This behind-the-scenes episode mixes liftoff footage, audio recordings and music to share some of the beauty and excitement of what it was like to be there, on the ground, documenting. We also get an incredible opportunity to share unique views of Falcon 9 from remote autonomous camera position and close-in telescopic zooms. I can’t believe one of our high-speed cameras caught those birds in flight!! Learn and see more from SpaceX Starlink 6: https://www.cosmicperspective.com/sta…
** The culprit behind the premature engine shutdown during the previous Starlink mission appears to have been a maintenance mistake rather than a breakdown in the engine’s hardware: This was the first time a F9 booster had flown a fifth time.
Small amount of isopropyl alcohol (cleaning fluid) was trapped in a sensor dead leg & ignited in flight
And preparations are underway for the first operational Crew mission after this final test:
The team at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas completed a static fire test today of the Falcon 9 first stage that will launch Crew Dragon’s first operational mission (Crew-1) with 3 @NASA astronauts and 1 @jaxa_en astronaut on board later this year pic.twitter.com/iagTmZUXDu
According to one of the US Space Force 44 (USSF-44) mission’s satellite providers, SpaceX’s next Falcon Heavy launch remains on track for late 2020 and will apparently be carrying more than one military satellite to orbit.
**** Elon Musk sees orbital Starship/Super Heavy becoming operational in a couple of years. The system will enable new and enhanced capabilities such as multiple large in-space telescopes.
Musk adds that Starship “allows for space telescopes to be at least transported to orbit at … probably an order of magnitude lower cost than in the past.”
While Starship SN4 continues preps for its test campaign at the launch site, a nosecone stacking operation was conducted at the launch site. See Elon’s tweet for SN allocation context: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1… Video and Photos via Mary (@BocaChicaGal).
While Starship SN4 pre-test work continues at the Boca Chica launch site, preparations for SN5 stacking continues with the customary flipping of a bulkhead. Video and Photos via Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer).