NASA And US Space Force Team Up For Planetary Defense, Moon Trips And More

NASA and the United States Space Force are banding together for the future of human spaceflight. 

As the agency moves forward with its Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the lunar surface by 2024, NASA is also working on its relationship with the newly-minted Space Force, which was formed Dec. 2019. Today (Sept. 22), NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between NASA and the U.S. Space Force. 

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NASA Lays Out $28 Billion Plan To Return Astronauts To The Moon In 2024

NASA officials released a nearly five-year, $28 billion plan Monday to return astronauts to the surface of the moon before the end of 2024, but the agency’s administrator said the “aggressive” timeline set by the Trump administration last year hinges on Congress approving $3.2 billion in the next few months to kick-start development of new human-rated lunar landers.

The plan unveiled Monday contained few new details not previously disclosed by NASA.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

NASA Has Narrowed The Source Of An Elusive Leak On The Space Station To 2 Russian Modules — One Of Which Provides Crucial Life Support

The International Space Station has been leaking for more than a year.

While the station is perpetually losing some air, officials first noticed an increase in that airflow last September. At the time the leak wasn’t major, but this summer they saw an uptick in that already higher-than-usual rate.

So in late August, the three crew members aboard the station — the NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and the Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner — hunkered down in one module of the station and sealed off the others. After closing the hatches, they conducted leak tests on each section.

Read more at: Business Insider


Blue Origin Considers Entering Commercial Space Station Business

Commercial spaceflight company Blue Origin is considering development of commercial space stations, with NASA as a potential early customer.

Blue Origin posted a job opening Sept. 18 for am “Orbital Habitat Formulation Lead” at its headquarters in the Seattle suburb of Kent, Washington. That individual will be charged with leading the company’s development of commercial space stations in low Earth orbit as a new product line.

Read more at: Spacenews

Azure Orbital Launches Microsoft Into Cloud-Based Space Race With Amazon

Call it the Clash of the Cloud Titans: Today Microsoft is taking the wraps off Azure Orbital, a cloud-based satellite data processing platform that competes with Amazon Web Services’ Ground Station offering.

The launch of Azure Orbital, timed for this week’s Microsoft Ignite conference for developers, can be taken as another sign that the final frontier is the next frontier for cloud computing.

Read more at: Geekwire

Why Now Is The Most Exciting Time In Space In 50 Years

The essential parts of an economy are intertwined by their very nature. There’s no point in having a food market if there are no farmers to supply food. But there’s no point in growing food until there are markets where you can sell it. And what is the right moment to go into the “food transportation” business, carting the freshly harvested produce from the field to the store? We’ve seen this in our own era: What was the point in creating high-speed internet service if there was no content online that required such speeds? Why bother creating YouTube if no one has the bandwidth to watch and upload videos easily?

Read more at: Fastcompany

Axiom Finalizing Agreements For Private Astronaut Mission To Space Station

The chief executive of Axiom Space says agreements with NASA, SpaceX, and fare-paying passengers should be finalized in the coming weeks for the launch of the first all-private crew to the International Space Station in October 2021, and former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria is set to command the mission.

The roughly 10-day flight will be the first mission into Earth orbit to carry only private astronauts, without crew members from a government space agency. Axiom, a Houston-based company, announced the privately-funded mission in March.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Western Space Teaming With International Partners To Develop Deep Space Missions

During a virtual event on Wednesday afternoon, Western University’s Institute for Earth and Space Exploration (Western Space) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the MILO Institute, to develop deep space missions.

The MILO Institute is a non-profit research collaborative led by Arizona State University, with support from Lockheed Martin and GEOshare, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin.

In signing this MOU, Western Space and the MILO Institute will work together to develop low-cost space missions.

Read more at: ctvnews


Astronauts Take Shelter As Space Station Dodges Orbital Junk

The International Space Station just dodged a fast-moving hunk of orbiting junk.

Controllers maneuvered the station away from a potential collision with a piece of debris today (Sept. 22) at 5:19 p.m. EDT (2119 GMT). They did so by firing the thrusters on a Russian Progress cargo spacecraft that’s docked to the orbiting lab’s Zvezda service module, NASA officials said in an update today.

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Earth May Get A New Minimoon — But It May Just Be 1960s Space Junk

Every once in a while, orbital trajectories and fate’s gravity conspire to let Earth briefly adopt a miniature moon to join us for a few measures of our planet’s constant dance around the sun.

Scientists rarely get to watch the process in action, but now they think they’ve spotted something that will slip into Earth’s orbit later this year and spend about six months as a minimoon.

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U.S. Space Command Announces Improvements In Space Debris Tracking

U.S. Space Command starting Sept. 24 is providing more precise data about the location and potential interaction between objects in space, which could help predict collisions involving space junk, officials told SpaceNews. 

The 18th Space Control Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, is now providing “more meaningful” data on approximately 25,000 space objects tracked by the U.S. military, the squadron commander Lt. Col. Justin Sorice, said Sept. 24.

Read more at: Spacenews

SIA Calls for Space Traffic Rules ASAP

The Satellite Industry Association today released recommendations for the rapid stand-up of a new legal framework to help prevent satellites from crashing into each other, including an open catalog of commercial satellite tracking data.

The rapidly growing numbers of satellites, especially in Low Earth Orbit (up to about 2,000 kilometers above Earth) mean, SIA argues, that it is past time for the creation of a legal regime for managing space traffic by the US government.

Read more at: Breaking defense

Space Junk

Outer space is crowded. Satellites, pieces of rocket, and stuff that astronauts left behind, such as cameras and poop, are just floating around. This space junk can pose a threat to our communication systems.

In this episode we talk with Lisa Ruth Rand, a fellow at the Science History Institute, about her upcoming book on space junk.

Read more at: Science history

The Elusive Peril of Space Junk

For decades, the International Space Station has been hovering over Earth, in an orbit somewhere between two hundred and three hundred miles above sea level. Its massive rectilinear structure, resembling an Eisenhower-era TV antenna, contains hundreds of thousands of solar cells and a series of pressurized modules that can support life and equipment, all of it weighing close to a million pounds. Since 2000, people have been living on the station, in an area comparable to a six-bedroom house: humanity’s most expensive real estate. The station is also the fastest structure a person can live in. It orbits the planet at more than seventeen thousand miles an hour, many times faster than the Earth’s rotation. A day on the station, from sunrise to sunrise, lasts just ninety minutes.

Read more at: Newyorker

Safety in the Space Frontier: Do We Need a Traffic Cop?

The space surrounding Earth is becoming a crowded place. More and more satellites and spacecraft launch into it on a recurring basis and leave ever-growing troves of hazardous floating debris—i.e., “space junk.” Managing all of this congestion and protecting space vehicles from colliding with the debris or with each other will require an unprecedented new level of space traffic management, according to a newly published, Congressionally chartered report by the National Academy of Public Administration. The report calls on Congress to fund a multiagency U.S. government effort to meet the challenge.

Read more at: clearancejobs

Moving the Space Sustainability Needle? Assessing the new NASA Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices

In December 2019, after months of interagency deliberation, NASA released an updated version of the U.S Government Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices (ODMSP). The last version had been promulgated in 2001, in an era before the 2007 Chinese ASAT test or the 2009 collision of Iridium 33 and Cosmos 2251. It was a time where commercial utilization of space was predominately in the geosynchronous region, save for the newly revived Iridium business that leveraged its constellations of 66 satellites or a small number of geospatial platforms prior to the 2003 U.S. remote sensing policy that would open the “aperture” to new space-based remote sensing businesses. It was also a time where only about 40 countries had experience operating satellites, half as many as today.

Read more at: Astroscale

Radiation Exposure On The Moon Is Nearly Three Times That On The ISS

Astronauts on the moon would face nearly three times more radiation exposure than those aboard the International Space Station, which could make long-term missions riskier than thought.

“Once you’ve survived being on the moon and come back to Earth, radiation damage is what stays with you for the rest of your life and that’s why this is a critical measurement,” says Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber at the University of Kiel in Germany.

Read more at: Newscientist

Can Space Diplomacy Bring Order To The Final Frontier?

It might seem there are enough problems down here on earth to be getting on with. But what happens up there, where the atmosphere thins and the vacuum of space begins, affects you and me.

That’s because the thousands of satellites that orbit the earth shape our lives.

Any disruption to those satellites – through conflict or misunderstanding – could have a devastating impact on millions of people. And that’s why British diplomats are trying to see if new international rules can be agreed to keep the peace in the heavens above.

Read more at: BBC

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