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NASA Spacecraft Preparing for Human Deep Space

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Orion with European Service Module

9 November 2017

There has been a tremendous amount of energy devoted toward placing humans in deep space.  NASA’s Orion Spacecraft is on track to developing the latest vehicle to help support effort.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

The Road to Orion’s Launch

NASA’s Orion spacecraft aims to send humans further into space than ever before, and ESA’s European Service Module will provide the essentials for keeping the astronauts alive and on course.

A review of the programme by NASA to assess progress is now showing a launch date from December 2019 to June 2020.

The first Exploration Mission-1 will circle the Moon without astronauts to lay the foundation and prove the technology for a second mission with a crew.

In Bremen, Germany, integration of the service module is well under way, with work already starting on the second.

More than 11 km of cables are being laid and connected to send the megabytes of information from the solar panels, fuel systems, engines, and air and water supplies to the module’s central computers.

Recently, the Orion’s 24 orientation thrusters were installed, complementing the eight larger engines that will back up the main engine.

The module’s complex design requires 1100 welds for the propulsion system alone, with only 173 left to complete.

European Service Module

Teams in Bremen at the Airbus integration room are on eight-hour shifts to keep work running 24 hours a day, aiming for a shipment of the completed module to the USA in the summer of 2018.

It will be flown to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it will be combined with the crew module before they are moved to NASA’s Plum Brook station in Ohio for extensive tests to ensure they are ready for launch and the voyage into deep space.

The service module is based on technology from ESA’s tried-and-tested Automated Transfer Vehicles that flew to the International Space Station on five missions. For Orion, the design is more complex with more systems but the technology behind it has been miniaturised to fit into the smaller Orion structure.

ESA’s David Parker, Director of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration, says: “The Orion spacecraft and service module is an inspiring international cooperation at the forefront of technology and humanity’s drive for exploration. All the teams involved are justly proud to be part of such a complex and important project.”

November 13, 2017 |

Arianespace Makes Launches Look Easy

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Vega lifts off

While we sometimes forget the amount of effort that goes into a successful launch, it is even more compelling when the launch is taking into consideration the disposition of excess debris.  Arianespace makes this all look easy.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

Find this article and others on ESA’s website here.

8 November 2017

Vega Launches Earth Observation Satellite for Morocco

Arianespace has launched a Vega rocket to deliver an Earth observation satellite into orbit for the Kingdom of Morocco.

Liftoff of Vega’s 11th mission from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana came at 01:42 GMT on 8 November (02:42 CET; 22:42 local time on 7 November).

With a mass at liftoff of 1110 kg, Mohammed VI-A was manoeuvred into its target Sun-synchronous orbit about 55 minutes into the mission after a series of burns of Vega’s upper stage.

Complying with debris regulations to help keep space clean, Vega’s upper stage fired a final time to burn up high in the atmosphere over the ocean.

Vega is a 30 m-high, four-stage vehicle designed to accommodate small scientific and Earth observation payloads of 300–2500 kg, depending on the orbit.

November 7, 2017 |

Game-Changing Electric Propulsion Deployed

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Eutelsat-172B
The satellite industry has recognized the significance of All-Electric Satellites.  Boeing has had a successful program for some time.  Airbus has improved their competitiveness with their latest platform.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

ESA ROLE IN EUROPE’S FIRST ALL-ELECTRIC TELECOM SATELLITE

17 October 2017Europe’s first all-electric telecom satellite has reached its final working orbit above the Pacific Ocean. Eutelsat-172B, built for Eutelsat by Airbus, carries new technologies developed through ESA-led projects, including fully articulated thruster arms.

The satellite relied entirely on electric thrusters to climb from its initial orbit into its planned slot over the equator some 35 800 km up, and is now using them to hold position.

“Electric propulsion is at least an order of magnitude more efficient than standard chemical propulsion for satellites,” explains ESA electric propulsion specialist Jose Gonzalez Del Amo.

“By electrically charging propellant and accelerating it using electrical power from solar arrays, much more energy is squeezed out of each breath of gaseous propellant.

Robotic arm

“This opens up the option of flying lighter satellites because they can fly on smaller launchers. Or a greater percentage of the same mass can be dedicated to the revenue-earning payload in place of bulky propellant tanks.

“The main trade-off is that all-electric satellites take much longer to reach their final orbit because electric propulsion provides low thrust, firing continuously to accelerate gradually over time.”

Eutelsat-172B – the first to fly of six Eurostar E3000 all-electric platforms sold so far to telecom companies by Airbus – reached its working orbit some four months after its 2 June launch.

ESA propulsion laboratory

Already a commercial success, this platform includes several innovations developed through ESA’s long-running Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems programme, as well as the equivalent Plan d’Investissements d’Avenir programme of France’s CNES space agency.

“All-electric telecom satellites have been in service globally since 2015, but Eurostar E3000 has a novel addition: a pair of 3 m-long three-jointed arms carrying thrusters on the end,” explains ESA structural engineer Mario Toso.

“Instead of having different thrusters embedded at corners of the satellite, the twin arms can be moved freely about its body.

 “One big advantage is that the thrusters can always be aligned precisely with the satellite’s centre of gravity for orbit raising and stationkeeping – saving propellant to elongate mission life.

“And this flexibility means the thrusts can be choreographed around antennas and solar wings which might otherwise be struck by thruster plumes.”

A second project developed the thrusters’ power processing unit – the interface between them and the rest of the satellite’s power system.

Satellite in testing

“The thrusters operate on a high voltage, receiving lower voltage inputs from the rest of the satellite,” says ESA power systems engineer Michail Tourloukis. “This unit helps to ensure that electrical noise from their operation does not come back inside the satellite.”

Improved versions of E3000’s thruster arms and power unit are now included in Airbus’s next-generation satellite platform, Eurostar Neo, which they are developing under ESA’s Neosat programme.

ESA’s Giorgio Saccoccia comments: “This game-changing electric propulsion on European commercial and scientific satellites is the result of more than two decades of development by ESA, in strong collaboration with national agencies and European companies.

“The achievement of Eutelsat-172B is a reward for the role that ESA has played with our partners, boosting the competitiveness of European products.”

October 25, 2017 |

The Future is Bright for Space Tech Expo

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Gordy McHattie, Event Director from Space Tech Expo speaks with EPIQ Space at this year’s Conference in Pasadena California. The conference has done well in the U.S. as well as Europe.  The next conference is scheduled October 24 – 26 in Bremen Germany.

The space industry is expanding to address advancements in SmallSats and CubeSats.  After 6 years, the conference is a great place to hear the latest from industry leaders and to meet with suppliers from throughout the supply chain.

Editor – EPIQ Space

July 24, 2017 |

Important Discovery of Seven Planets

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This illustration shows the possible surface of TRAPPIST-1f, one of the newly discovered planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system.
Feb. 22, 2017
RELEASE 17-015
NASA Telescope has had many firsts, but the discovery of seven planets is truly amazing.  Congratulations to the team.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star

This illustration shows the possible surface of TRAPPIST-1f, one of the newly discovered planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system. Scientists using the Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based telescopes have discovered that there are seven Earth-size planets in the system.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”

Continue reading at NASA website here.

February 23, 2017 |

Boeing Continues GPS Legacy

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The GPS program has pushed the boundaries of satellite capabilities for decades.  Boeing has been at the heart of this innovative program and will continue for years to come.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

Boeing, U.S. Air Force Extend Partnership to Sustain GPS Constellations

Agreement enables persistent GPS capability as Boeing works on next-generation GPS

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Feb. 2, 2017 – Boeing [NYSE: BA] and the U.S. Air Force recently signed a Global Positioning System (GPS) sustainment agreement that will ensure the navigation capabilities relied upon by millions of military and commercial users remain robust for years to come.

Under the agreement, Boeing will support GPS IIA and IIF satellites currently on orbit for the next five years. Boeing, which has been the prime GPS contractor for more than 40 years, is now part of the Air Force effort that may lead to the next generation of GPS satellites.

“This agreement continues Boeing’s strong legacy of GPS innovation and mission support,” said Dan Hart, vice president, Government Satellite Systems. “We are focused on delivering reliable, affordable and resilient GPS capability now and for generations to come.”

Collectively, Boeing GPS satellites have accrued more than 550 years of on-orbit operation. In March 2016, the company delivered its 50th GPS satellite on orbit to the Air Force and has built more than two-thirds of the GPS satellites that have entered service since 1978.

For more information on Defense, Space & Security, visit www.boeing.com. Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense.

# # #

Contact:

Addrian Brooks
Network & Space Systems
Office: +1 310-335-6463
Mobile: +1 310-529-3079
addrian.brooks@boeing.com

February 2, 2017 |

ÅAC Microtec and York Space Systems Announce Agreement to:

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Supply Advanced Avionics for Small Spacecraft Platform

For Release August 8th, 2016, Logan, UT: York Space Systems and AAC Microtec announced a definitive agreement for the supply of advanced command and data handling avionics for York’s S-Class small spacecraft platform. The avionics leverage AAC’s unique design approach with low cost and high reliability. Under the agreement, the electronics will be manufactured by York in the United States; enabling broad reach across US Government and commercial markets. (read more)

October 18, 2016 |

DSCS Satellite Going Strong after 21 Years

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DSCS Satelite Takes OVer Role of Linking Antarctic Researchers to the World
A legacy U.S. Air Force communications satellite built by Lockheed Martin enhances Internet access at the South Pole. Photo Courtesy of National Science Foundation
With many satellite programs still trying to figure out how to produce a satellite with a life of 10 – 15 years, the DSCS Satellite is still going strong after 21 years!  It is pretty impressive that the program is still delivering world-class performance.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

Long-Serving DSCS Satellite Takes Over Role of Linking Antarctic Researchers to the World

CHRIST CHURCH, New Zealand, Oct. 11, 2016 – Nearly 21 years after its launch, a Lockheed Martin-built satellite within the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) recently turned its attention to a new mission—supporting the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Amundsen-Scott Station at the South Pole, where communicating with the rest of the world has always been a challenge.

Amundsen-Scott Station’s location at 90 degrees south, right at the South Pole, makes communications with the remote science station difficult. Even for orbiting satellites, the extreme geographic latitude makes maintaining continuous communication links impossible for a station that up to 100 researchers call home. With few other options, periodic connections are still better than none, but the time to upload and download valuable research data and other communications is invaluable.

In June, the U.S. Air Force’s DSCS III B7 satellite took over the role of providing communication and data links between Amundsen-Scott and the U.S. Antarctic Program facility in Christchurch, New Zealand, which serves as the station’s link to the rest of the world. Replacing the NSF’s decommissioning GOES-3 satellite, DSCS III B7 provides the station with Internet access for 3.5 hours a day at speeds of up to 30 megabits per second (MBPS), an upgrade from about 1.5 MBPS they had under GOES.

DSCS III B7 has already begun relaying health and welfare data links to and from the remote facility. In June, the satellite played a key role in relaying telemedicine data leading up to the medical evacuation of two NSF employees in need of additional medical care.

“The DSCS constellation has been a legacy workhorse for the U.S. military’s super-high frequency communications,” said Chris Ayres, director of Operations, Sustainment and Logistics at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. “Now operating past twice its design life, it is gratifying to see DSCS III B7 still delivering value, providing significant return on investment by furthering scientific research and providing potentially life-saving communications with a location that is otherwise unreachable.”

Originally built by Lockheed Martin and launched on July 31, 1995 with a ten year-design life, DSCS III B7 builds on the constellation’s reputation for providing extended service life. Six on-orbit DSCS III satellites remain operational with more than 259 years of combined service life, already providing nearly 120 extra years of mission life.

Lockheed Martin sustains the DSCS constellation, as well as the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) system and Milstar blocks I and II, under the Air Force’s Combined Orbital Operations Logistics Sustainment (COOLS) program.

About Lockheed Martin

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 98,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

October 11, 2016 |

Lockheed Martin $395M to Expand GPS III Program

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GPS III Production Flow

GPS III satellites in production at Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Processing Facility near Denver. 

The GPS III Satellite constellation has had terrific accuracy over the years and the program continues to expand its capabilities.  GPS III Satellites 9 and 10 was awarded to Lockheed Martin by the U.S. Air Force.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

U.S. Air Force Awards Lockheed Martin $395 Million Contract for GPS III Satellites 9 and 10

DENVER, September 28, 2016 – The U.S. Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) $395 million in contract options for the production of the ninth and tenth Global Positioning System III (GPS III) satellite.

GPS III satellites will deliver three times better accuracy, provide up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities and extend spacecraft life to 15 years, 25 percent longer than any GPS satellites on orbit today. GPS III’s new L1C civil signal also will make it the first GPS satellite to be interoperable with other international global navigation satellite systems.

The contract includes funding for both long-lead items and full production for the next two space vehicles (SVs) in the Air Force’s next generation GPS III constellation. The first eight GPS III satellites are already under contract and in production at Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Processing Facility outside of Denver.

“Lockheed Martin is proud to be working with the Air Force to bring GPS III’s tremendous new capabilities to the men and women in our armed forces, as well as to the world,” said Mark Stewart, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Navigation Systems mission area. “Our industry team, comprising more than 250 aerospace companies across 29 states, is committed to making GPS III a reality.”

The Lockheed Martin team is finishing up final testing and integration activities on the first GPS III satellite, GPS III SV01, and is preparing to deliver it to the Air Force later this year. The second satellite, GPS III SV02, is poised to have its major functional systems fully integrated into one space vehicle prior to starting its own environmental testing. GPS III SV03 also is beginning to take form in the company’s production clean room as its major subcomponents are being assembled.

The GPS III team is led by the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Air Force Space Command’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS), based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.

For additional GPS III information, photos and video visit: www.lockheedmartin.com/gps

About Lockheed Martin

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 98,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

October 2, 2016 |

NASA Research Including Interstellar Submarines

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NIAC concepts
Montage of several newly awarded NIAC Phase II concepts from fellows Bruce Wiegmann, Adrian Stoica, Steven Oleson, and Justin Atchison.
Credits: L to R, B. Wiegmann/MSFC, A. Stoica/JPL, S. Oleson, J. Atchison

Find this article and others on NASA’s website here.

July 6, 2015

15-145

From Satellite Swarms to Interstellar Submarines, NASA Selects Leading-Edge Technology Concepts for Continued Study

NASA has selected seven technology proposals for continued study under Phase II of the agency’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. The selections are based on the potential to transform future aerospace missions, introduce new capabilities or significantly improve current approaches to building and operating aerospace systems.

The selected proposals address a range of visionary concepts, including metallic lithium combustion for long-term robotics operations, submarines that explore the oceans of icy moons of the outer planets, and a swarm of tiny satellites that map gravity fields and characterize the properties of small moons and asteroids.

“NASA’s investments in early-stage research are important for advancing new systems concepts and developing requirements for technologies to enable future space exploration missions,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This round of Phase II selections demonstrates the agency’s continued commitment to innovations that may transform our nation’s space, technology and science capabilities.”

NIAC Phase II awards can be worth as much as $500,000 for a two-year study, and the awards allow proposers to further develop their concepts from previously-selected Phase I studies. Phase I studies must demonstrate the initial feasibility and benefit of a concept. Phase II studies allow awardees to refine their designs and explore aspects of implementing the new technology.

NASA selected these projects through a peer-review process that evaluated innovativeness and technical viability. All projects are still in the early stages of development, most requiring 10 or more years of concept maturation and technology development before use on a NASA mission.

“This is an excellent group of NIAC studies,” said Jason Derleth, NIAC Program executive at NASA Headquarters. “From seeing into cave formations on the moon to a radically new kind of solar sail that uses solar wind instead of light, NIAC continues to push the bounds of current technology.”

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate innovates, develops, tests and flies hardware for use in future missions. Through programs such as NIAC, the directorate is demonstrating that early investment and partnership with scientists, engineers and citizen inventors from across the nation can provide technological dividends and help maintain America’s leadership in the new global technology economy.

For a complete list of the selected proposals and more information about NIAC, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/niac

-end-

Joshua Buck
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1130
jbuck@nasa.gov

Cynthia M. O’Carroll
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
301-286-4787
cynthia.m.ocarroll@nasa.gov

Last Updated: July 6, 2015
Editor: Sarah Ramsey
July 6, 2015 |
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