Categories
TechCrunch

NASA and SpaceX set November 14 target date for first operational Crew Dragon launch – TechCrunch

The first mission to officially carry astronauts to the International Space Station for a standard crew rotation is now tentatively set for November 14. NASA provided an updated date for the mission this week, after it shifted from an original planned timeframe of sometime in October. This is the first time that Crew Dragon, SpaceX’s human-rated capsule, will be flown in for an operational ‘shift-change’ mission at the ISS, after its historic Demo-2 mission earlier this year officially concluded its testing phase and certified it for NASA use. This launch will carry three NASA astronauts, including Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins, as well as JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi of Japan to the ISS, where they’ll join the crew and carry out regular station operations, including upkeep and upgrades, as well as conducting experiments in partnership with researchers on Earth. They’ll join the existing ISS crew, including Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins. Once they arrive, the full crew size will be seven astronauts, which is up from the usual six, but this will help ensure that more time is spent on research and experimentation vs. the regular duties that the crew takes on just to ensure continued smooth operation of the station. Crew-1 is set to launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, and is targeting a 7:49 PM EST liftoff. That’s subject to change, of course, but for now, mark your calendars. Source linkContinue readingNASA and SpaceX set November 14 target date for first operational Crew Dragon launch – TechCrunch

Categories
Wired

There May Be Far More Water on the Moon Than NASA Thought

One theory is that water hitched a ride to the moon as protons in the solar wind. When these protons interacted with the oxygen-rich lunar regolith, they formed hydroxyl, which is just water that’s missing one of its hydrogen atoms. Data from several spacecraft have shown that hydroxyl is all over the lunar surface, but they weren’t equipped with the types of instruments that are needed to tell the difference between hydroxyl and water. “We didn’t plan to look for it, so there wasn’t wasn’t really an instrument designed to look for bound water on the moon,” says Matt Siegler, a researcher at the Planetary Science Institute, who wasn’t involved with the research. “It’s one thing to see hydroxyl, but actual water molecules is another thing altogether.” But where there’s a lot of hydrogen and oxygen, there’s a good chance that there might be water, too. All that’s needed to turn it into water is energy. When a meteorite strikes the moon, the intense heat causes hydroxyl molecules to combine into water. It also melts the regolith, turning it into glass that traps the water molecules. Or, another theory suggests that the water may already be present on the meteorite and get trapped in the newly-formed glass during the impact. No lunar orbiters have had the equipment needed to tell the difference between hydroxyl and water, but NASA’s Sofia observatory has instruments that were able to observe in just the right part of the electromagnetic spectrum to detect traces of…Continue readingThere May Be Far More Water on the Moon Than NASA Thought

Categories
Mashable

NASA collected asteroid dust, but it’s leaking on its return journey

In case you missed the news, NASA pulled off a pretty complicated maneuver: It collected dust from the asteroid Bennu, a rock speeding through space some 200 million miles from Earth.  In fact, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft did the job so well that an issue has cropped up since the collection on Tuesday. Some of the sample is leaking into space because a lid was jammed open by large bits of material.  “The big concern now is that particles are escaping because we’re almost a victim of our own success,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona in Tucson, via CNN. “Large particles left the flap open. Particles are diffusing out into space. They aren’t moving fast, but nonetheless, it’s valuable scientific material.” Four years after it launched, the spacecraft retrieved a tiny bit of Bennu on Tuesday in a process that took just 16 seconds.   NASA has had to shift plans because of the leak. The agency intends to have the collection device stored in its return capsule as soon as Tuesday, opting to skip a step in which the sample would be measured. NASA knows it collected more than enough, but now won’t know the exact size of the collection until it reaches Earth in 2023. “I was pretty concerned when I saw these images coming in, and I think the most prudent course of action is to very safely stow what we have and minimize any future mass loss,” Lauretta said, according to…Continue readingNASA collected asteroid dust, but it’s leaking on its return journey

Categories
Mashable

Nokia wins NASA contract to put a 4G network on the moon

Soon, astronauts on moon missions won’t have any excuse for not answering their texts. NASA has awarded Nokia of America $14.1 million to deploy a cellular network on the moon. The freaking moon. The grant is part of $370 million worth of contracts signed under NASA’s “Tipping Point” selections, meant to advance research and development for space exploration.  Nokia’s plan is to build a 4G/LTE network, and eventually transition to 5G (just like the rest of us). It will be “the first LTE/4G communications system in space,” according to NASA’s announcement. “The system could support lunar surface communications at greater distances, increased speeds, and provide more reliability than current standards,” the announcement also reads. To the moon! 🌕 We are excited to have been named by @NASA as a key partner to advance “Tipping Point” technologies for the moon, to help pave the way towards sustainable human presence on the lunar surface. So, what technology can you expect to see? (1/6) pic.twitter.com/wDNwloyHdP — Bell Labs (@BellLabs) October 15, 2020 Nokia’s research arm, Bell Labs, provided more details in a Twitter thread. The company intends for the network to support wireless operation of lunar rovers and navigation, as well as streaming video.  The network is built to be compact and efficient, as well as “specially designed to withstand the extreme temperature, radiation and vacuum conditions of space.” According to UPI, NASA said in a live broadcast of the announcement that the network would extend to spacecraft, and help develop technology fit…Continue readingNokia wins NASA contract to put a 4G network on the moon

Categories
Engadget

NASA wants ideas for keeping Moon missions powered in the dark

If NASA is going to have a long-term presence on the Moon, it’s going to need an alternative to typical solar power — lunar nights can last for over two weeks in some cases. And the agency is turning to outsiders for help. It’s partnering with HeroX on a “Watts on the Moon” crowdsourcing challenge that offers up to $5 million in total prizes if you can create energy solutions for Moon missions. The frontrunners won’t even have to wait until the technology is approved before it goes on a lunar trip. The three-phase challenge starts with creators providing solutions that can power a mission with three activities. NASA judges will pick up to three winners for each activity and hand them $100,000 each, with as many as four runners-up getting $50,000 each. Phase 2 will task the victors with developing prototypes, and will hand out prizes worth up to $4.5 million. If one or more companies reach the third phase, they’ll team with NASA to build hardware for an “operational demonstration” on the Moon. Source linkContinue readingNASA wants ideas for keeping Moon missions powered in the dark

Categories
Engadget

NASA outlines how it will take humanity back to the Moon in 2024

The document explains the kind of scientific tests the astronauts have to conduct (and the samples they have to collect) when they get to their destination. It also details the role the Lunar Gateway will play to establish a permanent presence on the Moon, such as how it will provide basic life support needs for astronauts preparing for their trip to the lunar surface. For those who’ve been keeping a close eye on the Artemis program, NASA also included additional details, including a new test it plans to run during the Artemis II mission. Artemis II will be the program’s first crewed flight and will take astronauts on a lunar flyby. The new test will be a “proximity operations demonstration” to assess Orion’s manual handling capabilities and all related hardware and software. It will provide NASA the data it can’t get from on-the-ground preparations but needs to have for the actual Moon landing mission. In an introduction he wrote for the document, Bridenstine says: “Under the Artemis program, humanity will explore regions of the Moon never visited before, uniting people around the unknown, the never seen, and the once impossible. We will return to the Moon robotically beginning next year, send astronauts to the surface within four years, and build a longterm presence on the Moon by the end of the decade. I am proud to share NASA’s Artemis Plan—this is how we will go to the Moon once again. And how we will use the Moon as the stepping…Continue readingNASA outlines how it will take humanity back to the Moon in 2024

Categories
TechCrunch

NASA to test precision automated landing system designed for the Moon and Mars on upcoming Blue Origin mission – TechCrunch

NASA is going to be testing out a new precision landing system designed for use on the tough terrain of the Moon and Mars for the first time during an upcoming mission of Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable suborbital rocket. The ‘Safe and Precise Landing – Integrated Capabilities Evolution’ (SPLICE) system is made up of a number of lasers, an optical camera, and a computer to take all the data collected by the sensors and process it using advanced algorithms, and it works by spotting potential hazards, and adjusting landing parameters on the fly to ensure a safe touchdown. SPLICE will get a real-world test of three of its four primary subsystems during a New Shepard mission to be flown relatively soon. The Jeff Bezos -founded company typically returns its first-stage booster to Earth after making its trip to the very edge of space, but on this test of SPLICE, NASA’s automated landing technology will be operating on board the vehicle the same way they would when approaching the surface of the Moon or Mars . The elements tested will include ‘terrain relative navigation,’ Doppler radar, and SPLICE’s descent and landing computer, while a fourth major system – lidar-based hazard detection – will be tested on future planned flights. Currently, NASA already uses automated landing for its robotic exploration craft on the surface of other planets, including the Perseverance rover headed to Mars. But a lot of work goes into selecting a landing zone with a large area of unobstructed…Continue readingNASA to test precision automated landing system designed for the Moon and Mars on upcoming Blue Origin mission – TechCrunch

Categories
Engadget

NASA will pay private companies to collect Moon dirt samples

As part of its plan to send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, NASA is looking to acquire some dirt. Today, the agency confirmed that it will pay private companies to “collect a small amount of Moon ‘dirt’ or rocks from the lunar surface.” NASA put out a call asking companies to submit their proposals and says it’s open to working with companies outside of the US. NASA will require that they provide imagery of the collection and collected materials, plus location data. The collected material will become the sole property of NASA, and the agency is hoping to secure samples by 2024. Source linkContinue readingNASA will pay private companies to collect Moon dirt samples

Categories
Engadget

NASA picks potential missions to better understand space weather

NASA has taken a big step towards launching new missions that would help us better understand how the sun interacts with the space environment around our planet. The agency has picked five proposals and given them $1.25 million each to conduct a nine-month mission concept study under its heliophysics program. After the study period, NASA will choose two to send to space in the coming years. The hope is to deploy a mission that will not only “improve [our] understanding about the universe,” but also “offer key information to help protect astronauts, satellites and communications signals — such as GPS — in space.” Space weather has a huge impact on both communications signals and space exploration. Geomagnetic storms caused by solar matter, for instance, could lead to less accurate GPS. Solar particles could also be hazardous to spacefarers — in particular, they could damage the DNA within an astronaut’s cells and cause cancer. Source linkContinue readingNASA picks potential missions to better understand space weather

Categories
Engadget

Blue Origin team delivers full-scale lunar lander mockup to NASA

Blue Origin and its “National Team” partners Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper have delivered their full scale lunar lander mock-up to NASA. The space agency will use the engineering prototype to simulate how it could get “crew, equipment, supplies and samples off and on the vehicle” in future moon missions, according to the press release. While not a full prototype, the 40-foot-high mock-up does include the descent element based on Blue Origin’s Blue Moon cargo lander and BE-7 LOX/hydrogen engine. It also carries the ascent element developed by Lockheed Martin, including avionics, software, life support hardware and crew interfaces. Some of that tech is from Lockheed Martin’s human-rated, deep-space Orion vehicle that’s supposed to fly on NASA’s Artemis I and II moon test missions. Source linkContinue readingBlue Origin team delivers full-scale lunar lander mockup to NASA