NASA’s Perseverance Rover 22 Days From Mars Landing

This illustration shows the events that occur in the final minutes of the nearly seven-month journey that NASA’s Perseverance rover takes to Mars. Hundreds of critical events must execute perfectly and exactly on time for the rover to land on Mars safely on Feb. 18, 2021. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Seven minutes of harrowing descent to the Red Planet is in the not-so-distant future for the agency’s Mars 2020 mission.  

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission is just 22 days from landing on the surface of Mars. The spacecraft has about 25.6 million miles (41.2 million kilometers) remaining in its 292.5-million-mile (470.8-million-kilometer) journey and is currently closing that distance at 1.6 miles per second (2.5 kilometers per second). Once at the top of the Red Planet’s atmosphere, an action-packed seven minutes of descent awaits – complete with temperatures equivalent to the surface of the Sun, a supersonic parachute inflation, and the first ever autonomous guided landing on Mars.

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NASA’s Artemis Base Camp on the Moon Will Need Light, Water, Elevation

An astronaut descends the ladder to explore the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

By Lonnie Shekhtman
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — American astronauts in 2024 will take their first steps near the Moon’s South Pole: the land of extreme light, extreme darkness, and frozen water that could fuel NASA’s Artemis lunar base and the agency’s leap into deep space.

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Rocket Lab Demonstrates New Orbital Maneuvering Capability with Most Complex Kick Stage Mission Yet

Electron launches with OHB satellite. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

Launched just six months after contract signing, Rocket Lab’s ‘Another One Leaves The Crust’ mission demonstrated the longest on-orbit burn to date for the Kick Stage’s Curie engine?

LONG BEACH, Calif., 26 January 2021 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, demonstrated the increased maneuvering capability of the Kick Stage during the company’s 18th?Electron launch, successfully burning the Curie engine for more than twice the standard mission duration and delivering more than 1,700 km of perigee change.

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Space Flight Laboratory Announces Successful Launch of 12 Satellites on SpaceX Ride-Sharing Mission

HawkEye 360 RF geolocating microsatellite constellation. (Credit: SFL)

TORONTO, 25 January 2021 (SFL PR)?– Space Flight Laboratory (SFL), a developer of complete microspace missions, today announced the launch and successful deployment of 12 satellites on January 24, 2021. The SpaceX Falcon 9 ride-sharing mission carried three different SFL-designed microspace platforms into orbit for three separate commercial constellations.

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MDA Appoints New Vice President of Satellite Systems

BRAMPTON, Ont. (MDA PR) — MDA is pleased to welcome Amer Khouri as the company’s new Vice President of Satellite Systems. As the leader for this business, Mr. Khouri will be responsible for all business area activities including successful execution of existing programs and the continued growth of MDA’s Satellite Systems business, which is based in Montreal, Canada.

Mr. Khouri has an extensive 25-year career in general management, corporate and business development, strategy, product management and marketing. He is a proven leader with a strong track record building and transforming global organizations, developing and implementing winning growth strategies, and executing and integrating acquisitions and business ventures.

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NASA Issues RFI for Europa Clipper Launch

Europa Clipper in orbit around Europa. (Credit; NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a blow to Space Launch System (SLS) backers, NASA has issued a request for information (RFI) for the October 2024 launch of the Europa Clipper orbiter that will search for signs of life on Jupiter’s enigmatic, ice-covered moon Europa.

It’s a clear sign that NASA is seeking commercial alternatives to launching the spacecraft on SLS. Congress had previously mandated by law that Europa Clipper’s orbiter and a follow-up lander be launched on the massive rocket. However, the most recent spending law stipulated that NASA should use SLS if one is available.

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JAXA, Commercial Partners Develop Metal Mesh for Onboard Deployable Reflectors

Artist image of deployable reflector using metal mesh. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO, January 26, 2021 (JAXA PR) — Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Taiyo Wire Cloth Co., Ltd, NGK Insulators, Ltd., Technosolver Corporation, and Koyo Materica Corporation have jointly developed a metal mesh for onboard deployable reflectors that has achieved a dramatic cut in costs.

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Redwire Selected to Develop Deployable Systems for NASA’s Solar Cruiser Mission

The technology demonstration mission will expand agile sailcraft technology and scientific discovery

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., January 26, 2021 (Redwire PR)?– Redwire, a new leader in mission critical space solutions and high reliability components for the next generation space economy,?announced today?that its subsidiary Roccor has been awarded a subcontract to support?NASA’s Solar Cruiser technology demonstration mission?funded through NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Roccor was selected by NASA to develop the deployable structure for a nearly 18,000 square foot (1,600 m2) solar sail that will allow solar scientists to view the sun from different perspectives—and stay in orbit longer—than before.?

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Warming Seas Are Accelerating Greenland’s Glacier Retreat

To measure water depth and salinity, the OMG project dropped probes by plane into fjords along Greenland’s coast. Shown here is one such fjord in which a glacier is undercut by warming water. The brown water is caused by sediment being dredged up from the base of the glacier by meltwater plumes. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Scientists with NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland mission are probing deep below the island’s warming coastal waters to help us better predict the rising seas of the future.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Greenland’s melting glaciers, which plunge into Arctic waters via steep-sided inlets, or fjords, are among the main contributors to global sea level rise in response to climate change. Gaining a better understanding of how warming ocean water affects these glaciers will help improve predictions of their fate. Such predictions could in turn be used by communities around the world to better prepare for flooding and mitigate coastal ecosystem damage.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission Plans for May Asteroid Departure

Captured by the spacecraft’s SamCam camera on Oct. 22, 2020, this series of three images shows that the sampler head on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is full of rocks and dust collected from the surface of the asteroid Bennu. They show also that some of these particles are slowly escaping the sampler head. Analysis by the OSIRIS-REx team suggests that bits of material are passing through small gaps where the head’s mylar flap is slightly wedged open. The mylar flap (the black bulge on the left inside the ring) is designed to keep the collected material locked inside, and these unsealed areas appear to be caused by larger rocks that didn’t fully pass through the flap. Based on available imagery, the team suspects there is plentiful sample inside the head, and is on a path to stow the sample as quickly as possible. (Credits: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On May 10, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft will say farewell to asteroid Bennu and begin its journey back to Earth. During its Oct. 20, 2020, sample collection event, the spacecraft collected a substantial amount of material from Bennu’s surface, likely exceeding the mission’s requirement of 2 ounces (60 grams). The spacecraft is scheduled to deliver the sample to Earth on Sep. 24, 2023.

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Axiom Names Crew for First Private Mission to ISS

The Axiom Space Ax-1 crew: former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, Canadian businessman Mark Pathy, American investor Larry Connor, and Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe. (Credit: Axiom Space)

HOUSTON (Axiom Space PR) – Axiom Space on Tuesday announced its crew for humankind’s first flight of a group of private individuals to a Low Earth Orbit destination – the first-ever entirely private mission proposed to fly to the International Space Station (ISS).

The proposed historic Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) will consist of: former NASA astronaut and Axiom vice president Michael López-Alegría as commander; American entrepreneur and non-profit activist investor Larry Connor as pilot; Canadian investor and philanthropist Mark Pathy; and impact investor and philanthropist Eytan Stibbe of Israel.

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ESA’s Exoplanet Watcher Cheops Reveals Unique Planetary System

Artist impression of the TOI-178 planetary system. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s exoplanet mission  Cheops has revealed a unique planetary system consisting of six exoplanets, five of which are locked in a rare rhythmic dance as they orbit their central star. The sizes and masses of the planets, however, don’t follow such an orderly pattern. This finding challenges current theories of planet formation.

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Our World is Losing Ice at Record Rate

Arctic ice (Credit: Pixabay/Taken)

LEEDS, UK (ESA PR) — A research team – the first to carry out a survey of global ice loss using satellite data – has discovered that the rate at which ice is disappearing across the planet is speeding up. The findings also reveal that 28 trillion tonnes of ice was lost between 1994 and 2017 – equivalent to a sheet of ice 100 metres thick covering the whole of the UK.

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Pioneering Start: PIXL-1 Small Satellite with the World’s Smallest Laser Terminal in Orbit

CubeSat with laser terminal. (Credit: DLR CC-BY 3.0)
  • The PIXL-1 small satellite was successfully launched on January 24, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. CEST, with the OSIRIS4CubeSat / CubeLCT laser terminal on board
  • The aim of the mission is to test optical communication systems for small satellites, to develop them further until they are ready for the market and to provide a reference system for a new communication standard
  • Technology transfer: The development was carried out on behalf of the German industrial partner Tesat-Spacecom (TESAT), who will produce the laser terminal in series

OBERPFAFFENHOFEN, Germany (DLR PR) — The PIXL-1 small satellite was successfully launched into orbit on January 24, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. CEST from the US spaceport Cape Canaveral with a Falcon-9 launcher from the US company SpaceX. The smallest laser transmission terminal in the world is on board the satellite: “OSIRIS4CubeSat” enables data transmission up to a hundred times faster than conventional radio links and was developed by scientists from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in close cooperation with the German telecommunications company TESAT based in Backnang near Stuttgart. It provides an important platform for investigating scientific questions. The laser terminal is designed for series production and is sold by TESAT under the name “CubeLCT.” In this way, new value chains are being created in Germany as a business location.

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Virgin Orbit to Launch First Satellite for Dutch Ministry of Defense

Virgin Orbit Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 takes off from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

LONG BEACH, Calif., January 25, 2021 (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit, the California-based satellite launch company, announced today that it has been selected by the Dutch space engineering company Innovative Solutions in Space (ISIS) to launch the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s (RNLAF) first ever satellite, a 6U CubeSat called BRIK-II.

Designed and integrated by ISIS, BRIK-II will serve as a testbed for various communications experiments and demonstrate how nanosatellites can provide a meaningful contribution to military operations. The mission represents a significant step forward for the Dutch Ministry of Defense’s efforts to develop their first space capabilities, with a particular emphasis on responsive launch.

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