This Month in Space History | September 2019

September 5, 2019

“It’s not good enough for us to have generations of kids that… look forward to a better version of a cell phone with a video in it. They need to look forward to exploration” – Burt Rutan Mark Your Calendars From the announcement of a new Manned Spacecraft Center to first successful unmanned trip around…

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Can satellite megaconstellations be responsible users of space?

September 3, 2019

For many in the space industry, so-called “megaconstellations” of communications satellites are the next big thing. Such systems have the potential to provide services from tracking planes and ships to offering broadband internet access more effectively than existing satellite systems or terrestrial alternatives. They offer a feel-good story about connecting the world as well as…

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Space station gets a new docking port in key upgrade for Boeing and SpaceX visits

August 27, 2019

Two NASA astronauts floated outside the International Space Station early Wednesday and helped attach a second docking port for commercial crew ships being built by Boeing and SpaceX. They also routed and connected cables to expand the lab’s external wireless network and provide backup power to the station’s robot arm. in the station’s Quest airlock, astronauts…

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Nuclear Propulsion Could Be ‘Game-Changer’ for Space Exploration, NASA Chief Says

August 21, 2019

Humanity’s next giant leap could be enabled by next-gen nuclear tech, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. During the sixth meeting of the National Space Council (NSC) today (Aug. 20), the NASA chief lauded the potential of nuclear thermal propulsion, which would harness the heat thrown off by fission reactions to accelerate propellants such as hydrogen to tremendous…

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Blue Origin files protest over ‘flawed’ Air Force launch procurement

August 12, 2019

Blue Origin filed a “pre-award” protest with the GAO, arguing that the rules set by the Air Force do not allow for a fair and open competition. WASHINGTON — Blue Origin filed a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office on Monday challenging the Air Force’s plan to select two providers in the next procurement…

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Report outlines SpaceX’s plans for Starship launches from KSC

August 5, 2019

WASHINGTON — SpaceX plans to build facilities at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A for launches and, eventually, landings of its next-generation launch vehicle, according to a newly released report. An environment assessment prepared by SpaceX, and released by NASA Aug. 1, discusses plans to develop additional facilities at LC-39A, which currently hosts Falcon 9…

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NASA warns commercial crew delays create uncertainty in ISS operations

July 31, 2019

ATLANTA — As NASA praises the increased amount of research being performed on the International Space Station, the station’s manager cautions that uncertainty about commercial crew vehicles may disrupt station operations in the year ahead. In an opening keynote at the ISS Research and Development Conference here July 30, Kirk Shireman, NASA’s ISS program manager,…

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Maxar to install NASA pollution sensor on commercial satellite

July 23, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO — Maxar Technologies plans to install a NASA sensor to monitor air pollution over North America on a commercial communications satellite scheduled to travel to geostationary orbit in 2022, NASA and Maxar announced July 22. Maxar executives are speaking with multiple customers about flying the payload but have not yet signed a contract…

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The Aerospace Corporation finds new purpose in space

July 15, 2019

This article originally appeared in the June 10, 2019 issue of SpaceNews magazine. Founded in 1960 to help the U.S. Air Force develop the first missiles, rockets and satellites, the El Segundo, California-based nonprofit currently finds itself increasingly called upon to help the Defense Department navigate a rapidly evolving commercial space industry. Kevin Bell, vice…

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Three rules for building a megaconstellation

July 8, 2019

This article originally appeared in the June 10, 2019 issue of SpaceNews magazine. Six years ago, Planet began launching smallsats for a constellation that today numbers 140, making it the largest commercial satellite system in the world. By the end of this year, Planet may no longer hold that title. OneWeb and SpaceX, which began…

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This Month in Space History

July 2, 2019

  This Month in Space History | July 2019 “There are great ideas undiscovered, breakthroughs available to those who can remove one of truth’s protective layers. There are places to go beyond belief.” – Neil Armstrong Arguable the greatest milestone in space history. Fifty years ago, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon.…

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NASA selects Titan drone for next New Frontiers mission

June 28, 2019

MIAMI — NASA announced June 27 it will send a spacecraft to Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, to fly across its surface to study how life there, and on the early Earth, could have developed. The agency said it selected Dragonfly as the next mission in its New Frontiers line of medium-class planetary science…

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NASA to seek proposals for Gateway logistics

June 17, 2019

ORLANDO — NASA will issue a formal call for proposals later this summer for cargo transportation services for its lunar Gateway, seeking to model that effort on the space station’s commercial cargo program. NASA released a draft request for proposals (RFP) for its Gateway Logistics Services program June 14, seeking industry comment by July 10.…

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International experiments selected to fly on Chinese space Station

June 13, 2019

HELSINKI — Six experiments have been granted a place aboard to the future Chinese Space Station through a joint international cooperation initiative, with three more receiving conditional acceptance. The results of the selection process were announced jointly Wednesday by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA)…

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This Month in Space History | June 2019

June 11, 2019

Very few people have experienced the thrill and anticipation of being launched into space. In an interview in 1998, Sally Ride described the experience. “When you’re getting ready to launch into space, you’re sitting on a big explosion waiting to happen. So most astronauts getting ready to lift off are excited and very anxious and…

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