December 17 – December 22, 2018

NASA’s InSight Places First Instrument On Mars

NASA’s InSight lander placed its seismometer on Mars on Dec. 19, 2018. This was the first time a seismometer had ever been placed onto the surface of another planet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

December 19, 2018 – NASA’s InSight lander has deployed its first instrument onto the surface of Mars, completing a major mission milestone. New images from the lander show the seismometer on the ground, its copper-colored covering faintly illuminated in the Martian dusk. It looks as if all is calm and all is bright for InSight, heading into the end of the year. Read More

Dream Chaser Spacecraft Passes Key NASA Milestone Production Of Orbital Spacecraft To Begin

Image Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

December 18, 2018 – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft passed a key milestone for NASA’S Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract, validating design performance and clearing the way for full spacecraft production. The milestone marks completion of Integration Review 4 (IR4) demonstrating NASA’s confidence in the safety and maturity of Dream Chaser’s design. Read More

InSight Engineers Have Made A Martian Rock Garden

Engineers practice deploying InSights instruments in a lab at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Engineers practice deploying InSight’s instruments in a lab at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Several of them are wearing sunglasses to block the bright yellow lights in the test space, which mimic sunlight as it appears on Mars. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPGP

December 18, 2018 – NASA’s InSight lander is due to set its first science instrument on Mars in the coming days. But engineers here on Earth already saw it happen – last week. Like NASA’s Curiosity rover, InSight has a full-scale working model at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. This sister lander, aptly named ForeSight, lets the team test all operations before they happen on Mars. Read More

NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Takes The Inside Course To Ultima Thule

This image was made by combining hundreds images taken between August and mid-December by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI). It has been colored using deep blue for the darkest regions and yellow for the brightest. Ultima Thule is the bright yellow spot in the middle. The two possible flyby distances for New Horizons are indicated by the two concentric circles. The mission has decided to fly along the closer path, toward the target point marked by an X. Individual images contain many background stars, but by combining images taken at different distances from Ultima Thule, most of the stars can be identified and removed. However, some of them leave behind traces, which can be seen as faint circles radiating away from the target point. Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

December 18, 2018 – With no apparent hazards in its way, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has been given a “go” to stay on its optimal path to Ultima Thule as it speeds closer to a January 1 flyby of the Kuiper Belt object a billion miles beyond Pluto – the farthest planetary flyby in history. Read More

United Launch Alliance Issues Call For 2019 Student Rocket Launch Payloads

The Future Heavy rocket. Image Credit: United Launch Alliance

December 17, 2018 – United Launch Alliance (ULA) has issued its request for student teams from kindergarten through 12th grade to create “payloads” for the 2019 ULA and Ball Aerospace Student Rocket Launch. More than 20 K-12 student teams will have a chance to design, build and launch objects, experiments or instruments on the ULA-intern-built Future Heavy Super Sport rocket next summer. Teams can choose to compete for a chance to win up to $5,000 for their school or sponsoring nonprofit organization by guiding their payload closest to a designated ground-based target. Read More

Sierra Nevada Corporation Wins Advanced Propulsion Contract

December 17, 2018 – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has won a contract to develop innovative propulsion systems for the initial phase of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Operational Fires, or OpFires, program. Read More

Northrop Grumman Successfully Tests Orion Spacecraft’s Launch Abort Motor

Test firing of the Northrop Grumman-manufactured launch abort motor in Promontory, Utah, confirmed the motor can activate within milliseconds and will perform as designed under cold temperatures. Image Credit: Northrop Grumman

December 17, 2018 – Northrop Grumman Corporation along with NASA and Lockheed Martin successfully performed a ground firing test of the abort motor for NASA’s Orion spacecraft Launch Abort System (LAS) at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Promontory, Utah on December 13. The abort motor is a major part of the LAS, which provides an enhancement in spaceflight safety for astronauts. The completion of this milestone brings Orion one step closer to its first flight atop NASA’s Space Launch System and to enabling humans to explore the moon, Mars and other deep space destinations beyond low-Earth orbit. Read More

More News

Lucy Student Pipeline Accelerator And Competency Enabler
Source: L’SPACE Virtual Academy

Key Milestone For Euclid Mission, Now Ready For Final Assembly
Source: ESA

Planetary Astronomers Identify Cycle Of Spectacular Disturbances At Jupiter’s Equator
Source: University of Leicester

What Is GPS III And How Will It Stand Apart?
Source: Geospatial World

Bohemian Rhapsody: Queen’s Brian May Announces NEW Solo Single
Source: Express

Air Force Space Command Increasing Combat Readiness As Enlisted Space Operators Head To Advanced Instructor Course
Source: Air Force Space Command

Come Back Tomorrow: All Four Of Today’s Rocket Launches Postponed

Space Telescope Detects Water In A Number Of Asteroids
Source: Kobe University

Maxar’s SSL Awarded Contract To Provide GEO SmallSat For Mobile Broadband Company
Source: Maxar Technologies Ltd.

Pence: Space Command Will Integrate Military Space Capabilities
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

NASA Administrator Statement On Passing Of Rona Ramon
Source: NASA

NASA Satellites Spot Young Star In Growth Spurt
Source: NASA

Elf On A (Really High) Shelf! Astronaut Brings Christmas Cheer To Space Station

Pentagon Procurement Chief Ellen Lord: DoD Needs Launch Vehicles For Small Satellites
Source: SpaceNews

SpaceIL Completes Lunar Lander For February Launch
Source: SpaceNews

Spaceflight Awarded Contract To Launch Brazil’s Amazonia-1 Spacecraft
Source: Spaceflight

Text Of A Memorandum From The President To The Secretary Of Defense Regarding The Establishment Of The United States Space Command
Source: The White House

Winning Ideas For New Space Transport Services
Source: ESA

InSight On Mars: Getting A Grip On Surface Science!
Source: Leonard David’s Inside Outer Space

Jim Avery, Former CU Professor And Pioneering Researcher, Dies At 68
Source: Colorado Daily

Mars Colony Prize – Design The First Human Settlement On Mars
Source: The Mars Society

Intermap Technologies Announces Exclusive Partnership With Lufthansa Systems To Provide Lido/SurfaceData NEXTView (TM)
Source: Intermap Technologies

Chandra Serves Up Cosmic Holiday Assortment
Source: NASA/Chandra X-Ray Observatory

NASA Sends CubeSats To Space On First Dedicated Launch With Rocket Lab
Source: NASA

Maxar’s MDA And Orbital Insight Announce Expanded SAR Satellite Imagery Agreement
Source: Maxar Technologies Ltd.

Alien Imposters: Planets With Oxygen Don’t Necessarily Have Life
Source: John Hopkins University

Discovered: The Most-Distant Solar System Object Ever Observed
Source: Carnegie Institution For Science

Massive New Dark Matter Detector Gets Its ‘Eyes’
Source: Brown University

NASA Begins America’s New Moon To Mars Exploration Approach In 2018
Source: NASA

U.S. Air Force Releasing More Data On Orbits Of Military Satellites
Source: SpaceNews

Bettina Inclán Named To Head NASA Office Of Communications
Source: NASA

New Shepard To Fly 9 NASA-Sponsored Payloads To Space On NS-10
Source: Blue Origin

Saturn’s Rings May Disappear In 100 Million Years
Source: NASA

Soyuz Raised On Launch Pad In French Guiana For Arianespace’s Last Flight Of 2018
Source: SpaceFlight Now

Mike Pence Headed To Cape Canaveral For GPS 3 Launch
Source: SpaceNews

SpaceX To Close 2018 With GPS III & First Contracted U.S. National Security Mission

Rocket Lab Electron Launches ELaNa-XIX Mission