Pittsburgh, PA – Astrobotic, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, has been selected by NASA for a Phase II SBIR Award to develop CubeRover, a class of 2-kg rover platform capable of small-scale science and exploration on the Moon and other planetary surfaces. This new small rover platform complements Astrobotic’s lunar payload delivery service by providing a low-cost mobility capability to the lunar surface for customers around the world.
CubeRover is based on the idea that a standard robotic mobility platform, built to survive the lunar environment, could be used by a wide range of companies, governments, universities, and non-profits to carry out their own small-scale lunar science and exploration missions. This standardized architecture will drive the space community to commoditize systems, components, and instruments that are compatible with the platform, lowering costs and vastly increasing functionality.
Just as the CubeSat revolution opened a new era of science and commerce in orbit, CubeRovers will make mobile lunar surface access available to everyone. When a CubeRover lands at the dawn of the next decade, it will change the paradigm for planetary surface operations, and create the infrastructure for off-world development and settlement from the ground up.
“CubeRover stands to give more people access to the Moon than ever before. Countries and organizations without multi-billion-dollar budgets now have a means of exploring other worlds for the first time. We are thrilled NASA is supporting our vision to innovate lunar surface mobility,” said Dr. Andrew Horchler, Principal Investigator of the program at Astrobotic.
In Phase I, Astrobotic and Carnegie Mellon University collaborated on a rigorous, system-wide development of a 2-kg rover prototype that could explore the surface of the Moon. The team, made up of more than 30 individuals, performed major engineering studies to determine the architecture of a novel chassis, body type, power system, and computing system, and produced novel flight software and navigational techniques for small rovers.
In Phase II the team will follow up this groundbreaking work with a rapid, two-year development to deliver a flight-ready rover to NASA. The team intends to fly the first CubeRover on Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander to the Moon in 2020.
Astrobotic Technology, Inc. is a lunar logistics company that delivers payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits, and individuals. The company’s spacecraft accommodates multiple customer payloads on a single flight, offering flexibility at an industry-defining low price of $1.2 million per kilogram. Astrobotic is an official partner with NASA through the Lunar CATALYST program, has 24 prior and ongoing NASA contracts, a commercial partnership with Airbus DS, a corporate sponsorship with DHL, 11 deals for its first mission to the Moon, and 130 customer payloads in the pipeline for upcoming missions. Astrobotic was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.
WASHINGTON — A final fiscal year 2018 spending bill released by House and Senate appropriators March 21 would give NASA more than $20.7 billion, far above the administration’s original request.
The omnibus spending bill, completed after weeks of negotiations, restores funding for Earth science and education programs slated for cancellation by the White House and includes additional money for the agency to build a second mobile launch platform for the Space Launch System.
The appropriations bill gives NASA $20.736 billion for the 2018 fiscal year, which started more than five and a half months ago. That is more than $1.6 billion above the administration’s original request of $19.092 billion. A House appropriations bill offered NASA $19.872 billion and its Senate counterpart $19.529 billion. An overarching two-year budget deal reached earlier this year raised spending caps for both defense and non-defense programs, freeing up additional funding.
Appropriators used that additional funding to, in part, restore programs slated for cancellation in the original request. Four of the five Earth science programs the administration sought to cancel — the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, and ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission, the CLARREO Pathfinder and Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 instruments and the Earth observation instruments on the Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft — are explicitly funded in the request. A fifth program, the Radiation Budget Instrument, was already cancelled by NASA earlier this year because of technical and programmatic issues.
The budget also provides $100 million for NASA’s education program, which the administration had sought to close down. That proposal received wide bipartisan criticism in the House and Senate last year, whose appropriations bills restored funding. The Restore-L satellite servicing mission, which the administration sought to convert into a more general, and much smaller, technology development program, receives $130 million in the bill.
The White House once again seeks to shutter NASA’s education program in its fiscal year 2019 request, along with the same Earth science missions targeted for cancellation in the 2018 request.
NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), another mission slated for cancellation in the 2019 budget request, received $150 million in the 2018 omnibus bill. The report accompanying the bill makes no reference to the proposed cancellation but does direct NASA to provide to Congress a lifecycle cost estimate for the mission within 60 days, including any additions needed to make it consistent with a “class A” risk classification, as identified in an independent review of the program last fall.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope receives $533.7 million, the exact amount requested by the administration. As in past years, the bill includes language directing NASA to treat any increase as meeting a 30 percent under federal law. That law requires NASA to both provide a report on the size and cause of the overrun as well as prohibiting spending on it starting 18 months later unless authorized to continue by Congress. NASA officials said March 20 that a determination of any breach of the program’s $8 billion cost cap caused by further delays in its development could be announced as soon as next week.
The agency’s planetary science program received more than $2.2 billion in the bill, an increase of $300 million over the request. It includes $595 million to continue work on the Europa Clipper mission and follow-on lander, and retains provisions from prior bills calling on using the SLS for launching Europa Clipper by 2022 and the lander by 2024. The report also provides $23 million for a proposed helicopter NASA is considering including on the Mars 2020 rover mission.
NASA’s exploration programs also win additional funding in the bill, with the omnibus providing $2.15 billion for SLS and $1.35 billion for Orion, the same levels as in both the House and Senate bills but above the original request.
The bill includes $350 million to build a second mobile launch platform. NASA considered, but did not request, funding in its 2019 proposal for a second platform, which outside advisers said could shorten the gap between the first and second SLS missions by avoiding delays caused by modifying the platform to accommodate the larger version of the SLS used on second and subsequent missions.
The House is expected to take up the full omnibus bill on March 22, followed immediately after by the Senate. The government is currently operating on the latest in a series of stopgap funding bills, known as continuing resolutions, that expires March 23.
International correspondent in Sao Paulo, Brazil - The Planetário named after Prof. Aristotle Orsini in Ibirapuera Park hosted two important events Monday January 29th, 2018 in the area of space science.
The first was the appointment of 7 year old João Paulo Guerra Barrera as Official Ambassador of Science Days in Brazil. Following that, three space professionals, including a keynote speaker from NASA, presented in this extraordinary event.
The event highlights the announcement of Science Days Brazil 2018 running from March 3 - 17th. Science Days is an annual traveling multi-day event through Brazil aimed at youth to adults to promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education. The event is full of hands on activities, speakers, and contributors from across the globe.
Joao Paulo, who turns 8 in March, gained international recognition when he won NASA Ames Space Settlement Competition directed at teens and consequently overcame six thousand opponents from around the world. His project on space colonization became a bilingual book, "In the World of the Moon and the Planets", and game. This led the Michaelis Foundation for Global Education, the primary supporter of Science Days, to invite him to become the ambassador for the entirety of the event as it travels throughout Brazil.
Space Educators and Speakers
Sponsored by the Michaelis Foundation, the speakers bring important professional views and knowledge linked to NASA.
George Francis "Gabe" Gabrielle was a civil engineer at the Kennedy Space Center, NASA, where he had the opportunity to witness and work with the launch of over 70 space shuttle missions.
Physicist Alex Greutman is a co-starter and lead instructor of an educational program called Space Trek at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and is currently a member of the OR1ON Center for Space Education team in Brazil.
Mechatronic engineer Vinicius Fantuchi has developed an educational program in collaboration with the Kennedy Space Center International Academy based on the Osiris-REX Asteroid Mission to teach about robotic programming and space to youth across South America.
For more information about Science Days Brazil 2018 please visit the following link: BrazilFlorida.org
Samantha Cristoforetti, Italian European Space Agency astronaut, who is also an Italian Air Force pilot and engineer, believes that humans are not going to Mars anytime soon.
"It will take a long time to fly to Mars. If from the ISS to go to the Moon it takes long time, then to Mars it takes even more. Currently there are many expectations regarding this, but we need investments,” Cristoforetti said during the space conference.
In an interview with Sputnik Italia, the first Italian woman-astronaut recalled her experience flying on a Russian Soyuz space rocket, saying that, "At the time of launch, the speed is very high. We reached orbit in less than 9 minutes, at a speed of 28,000 km/h.”
Cristoferetti, who at 40 has already achieved milestones in space exploration, has been a part of space missions such as Expedition 42, Expedition 43, and Soyuz TMA-15M.
Cristoferetti went on to say, "I think that space cooperation, and especially the flying of astronauts to the ISS, shows us that when you concentrate on common goals, rather than on differences, working together becomes possible even in times of tension. There remains no room for conflicts, because we need to focus on what we have in common, and on the greater goal for which we are all working.”
Cristoferetti, was a special guest at a recent a conference called "The Way to the Stars — from Moon to Mars" held in Rome, Italy.
During the conference, the current President of the Italian Space Agency, ASI, Roberto Battiston said that, "Space is one of the sectors where tension in relations between countries is being smoothened out. Space is very fertile soil for various fields of activity related to international relations.”
He added that, "Space is an instrument of peace.”
The conference was also attended by Franco Frattini, president of Italian Society for International Organization, SIOI, who said that space activities are among the few in which the great tensions between nations diminish.
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has formalized its agreement with NASA under Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2), signing a contract to design and develop a prototype for a deep space habitat. The formal signing of the contract under NextSTEP Broad Agency Announcement, Appendix A: Habitat Systems, aimed at enabling potential long-duration human missions in deep space, clears the way for actual production of SNC’s prototype in the coming months.
SNC is partnering with Aerojet Rocketdyne and ILC Dover to begin the conceptual architectural design; they will build a full-scale ground prototype of the main habitable volume over the next 19 months.
“The future of human spaceflight includes long-duration travel in deep space and these prototypes will help develop the concepts to make it possible. The idea that humans are starting to expand farther into space than ever before is exciting and we’re thrilled to be a part of it,” said Fatih Ozmen, owner and CEO of SNC.
The public-private habitation development work supports NASA’s study of a deep space gateway concept in cislunar space. Located in lunar orbit, a gateway could enable a new level of space exploration never before possible. NASA gateway studies and prototypes will be used to look at commercial capabilities and risk reduction as the agency defines requirements and objectives for the spaceport. If the concept is approved, the gateway would launch in several elements, and the first would be power and propulsion.
SNC is studying this element under a separate NextSTEP Broad Agency Announcement contract award for Appendix C: Power and Propulsion Studies. SNC envisions the power and propulsion element utilizing the company’s logistics and control module (LCM) and solar electric propulsion module (SEPM) as initial building blocks for our proposed deep space gateway architecture concept.
SNC’s concepts could incorporate all of NASA’s key elements for a gateway:
The deep space gateway concept complements SNC’s extensive space portfolio which includes the Dream Chaser® spacecraft slated to start resupply missions to the International Space Station in 2020 under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services-2 contract. SNC’s work under the NextSTEP-2 architecture leverages technology developed for the Dream Chaser vehicle including proximity operations systems for in-space vehicle docking, environmental control and life support systems, as well as other essential subsystems for on-orbit operation and control.
“Working on this technology shows SNC’s dedication to the future of spaceflight and long-duration exploration missions that are critical to NASA’s vision of space exploration,” said Mark Sirangelo, executive vice president of SNC’s Space Systems business area.
SNC previously won a NASA award for Phase I of the project that allowed research on a concept study for a habitat life support system. The study incorporated the concept and development of a prototype for the Greenwall, an advanced plant growth system for long-duration human sustainability in deep space.
BREMEN, Germany — The relationships between France and Germany are key for the success of Europe in the increasingly competitive global space sector, Jean Pascal Le Franc, the French space agency CNES’s director of programming, international and quality, said Oct. 24.
According to Le Franc, the two countries, which have been cooperating on space projects for the past 40 years and together provide 50 percent of the ESA budget, have the responsibility to ensure that Europe remains a leading space player amid the arrival of new countries as well as commercial space entities.
With ESA being a separate entity from the European Union, the two European powers have to ensure that space policies of the two institutions align.
“French-German cooperation is a basis of all success of the European space,” Le Franc said during a presentation at the Space Tech Expo Europe conference here. “We have been working with the European Commission to encourage and consolidate new ideas.”
The idea of strong “united” space in Europe resonates with ESA Director-General Jan Woerner.
“You have to be strong if you want to be considered a good partner on international level,” Woerner said. “That’s why Europe needs autonomy in accessing and using space. That’s why we need our own launcher program.”
Woerner, who frequently speaks about the “united space of Europe” – the idea that the European space sector should transcend national interests of individual ESA member states and work towards a common goal — said ESA had been working for a year with the EU to achieve a shared position on the space matters. That includes plans integrating space more tightly into the European economy and society, as well as support of industry and academia to enable them to be fully competitive on a global level, Woerner said.
“It’s not about being independent on the world,” Woerner said. “It’s about being a strong partner.”
Source: Space News
The International Journey of Science & Technology-IJST, represents a new kind of teaching that involves combining subjects and creating hands-on projects that look more like real-world experiences and skills required for careers. It integrates subjects that might have been taught separately in years past. It's looking at the why and not just the how.
"In my mind, the biggest thing that ties THE ITST and STEM together is problem-solving activities," said Mike Lester, who is the director of education at KSC International Academy.
The lessons students glean from the IJST STEM education can be applied to their futures — whether they immediately attend technical college to learn a trade, or attend a four-year college or beyond.
One of Lester's IJST students last year told Lester he wanted become a NASA soft engineer, something Lester encouraged because he thought the student would enjoy the problem-solving aspects of this particular career.
Part of the power of IJST STEM education is that it makes high-level concepts realistic for students. For example, students are learning much more than they might realize when they take a class such as the robotics challenge Mars competition.
Over the past few days, NASA’s Curiosity rover has been making a steady climb towards a strange Martian ridge that’s captivated scientists since before the mission even started. Known as Vera Ridge after the pioneering astrophysicist Vera Rubin, the durable outcrop could shed new light on the environment and potential habitability of ancient Mars. Although the climb has proven a challenging one, Curiosity has managed to capture some spectacular photos along the way.
The Curiosity rover’s explorations have already shown that this region of Mars once hosted an ancient lake, which is seen as a potential sign of habitability, and a possible example of what Earth looked like in its primordial days. The iron-oxide-bearing Vera Ridge, which also contains clay and sulfate minerals, was named a “go-to target” by NASA before Curiosity made its landing on the Red Planet back in 2012.
The ridge is located on the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp, in a region that’s better at resisting erosion than the shallower areas below Curiosity’s current position. NASA is hoping to gain a better understanding of why this is the case, why it’s rich in the iron-oxide mineral hematite (which may be related to the lack of observed erosion), and what the rocks of Vera Ridge can reveal about the environmental conditions of ancient Mars.
But to observe these tantalizing features, Curiosity has some climbing to do. Mission planners are carefully selecting a route that, in addition to ensuring a safe ascent, will lead to the ridge layers that were previously studied from a lower vantage point.
Four Japanese companies have formed a joint venture to tap into the growing global demand for small rockets used to send satellites into space.
Canon Electronics, IHI Aerospace, Shimizu and Development Bank of Japan -- all major contributors to Japan's space program -- launched New Generation Small Rocket Development Planning on Wednesday.
The new company plans to develop next-generation, solid-fuel minirockets capable of carrying 100kg payloads.
Currently, U.S. start-ups have taken the lead in private-sector rocket development. As more businesses seek low-cost ways to send small satellites into space, however, there appears to be room for competition in the niche market.
The new company is led by President Shinichiro Ota, a former industry ministry bureaucrat and once the head of the Japan Patent Office. NGSRDP will initially be based at Canon Electronics' headquarters, studying technologies and costs with the hope of starting commercial operations as early as this year.
The joint venture has set a price point of 1 billion yen ($9.1 million) or less per launch -- an amount seen as competitive against overseas rivals. At present, plans call for a rocket smaller than the Epsilon rocket currently under development by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, but larger than JAXA's SS-520 minirocket.
The four companies had been discussing formation of a small rocket company for about three years. President Ota has said that the "time is ripe" for the joint venture.
IHI Aerospace has played a key role in the development of Epsilon, while Canon Electronics has been involved in the SS-520 project.
JAXA aims to launch a SS-520 by the end of this year, during which Canon will demonstrate the viability of its rocket control system. If successful, Canon aims to use the system in NGSRDP's rocket.
Japan's Space Activities Act will go into effect in the fall of 2018. The law establishes licensing procedures for companies entering the rocket business and augments liability insurance covering accidents. Ota said the new law will make it easier for companies to enter the rocket field.
The market for small rockets is expected to grow fast. A U.S. research company projects 460 ultra-small satellites weighing 1kg to 50kg will be launched in 2023, a figure 360% higher than for 2016.
The sharp increase will be driven private-sector services that require high-resolution satellite image data.
Interstellar Technologies -- a Japanese rocket venture established by entrepreneur Takafumi Horie -- recently failed in the launch of its Momo rocket, but vows to carry on with its space program. Based in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, the company hopes to launch a rocket capable of carrying ultra-small satellites in 2020.
NGSRDP has yet to set a target date for its first launch, as it requires licensing stipulated by the Space Activities Act.
Source: MIHO SAITO and RIMI INOMATA, Nikkei staff writers