January 24, 2018

NASA’s Next Mars Lander Spreads Its Solar Wings

While in the landed configuration for the last time before arriving on Mars, NASA’s InSight lander was commanded to deploy its solar arrays to test and verify the exact process that it will use on the surface of the Red Planet. During the test on Jan. 23, 2018 from the Lockheed Martin clean room in Littleton, Colorado, engineers and technicians evaluated that the solar arrays fully deployed and conducted an illumination test to confirm that the solar cells were collecting power. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin Space

January 24, 2018 – NASA’s next mission to Mars passed a key test Tuesday, extending the solar arrays that will power the InSight spacecraft once it lands on the Red Planet this November. The test took place at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado, where InSight was built and has been undergoing testing ahead of its launch. Read More

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s STPSat-5 Satellite Completes Ground Compatibility Testing

Image Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

January 24, 2018 – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Test Program Mission 5 (STPSat-5) satellite moved another step closer to launch, successfully completing its Factory Compatibility Test (FCT) with NASA’s Near-Earth Network and the NASA Ames Multi-Mission Operations Center. Read More

Stargazers To Share A Star For Humanity

The Humanity Star, created by Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck, is a project intended to draw people’s eyes up and encourage people to look past day-to-day issues and consider a bigger picture. Image Credit: PRNewsfoto/Rocket Lab

January 24, 2018 – A newly launched satellite is expected to become the brightest object in the night sky, creating a shared experience for all humanity, after being launched on board Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle last week. The Humanity Star is intended to serve as a focal point for humanity, as every single person on Earth will have the opportunity to see and experience it. The satellite will appear as a bright, glinting star shooting across the night sky. Read More

Lockheed Martin Appoints Key Communications Leaders

January 24, 2018 – Lockheed Martin appointed Bill Phelps as vice president, External Communications, and Adam Sohn as vice president, Lockheed Martin Space Communications. Both report to Jennifer Whitlow, senior vice president, Lockheed Martin Communications. Read More

A New ‘Atmospheric Disequilibrium’ Could Help Detect Life On Other Planets

Future telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope (right) will observe the atmospheres of distant planets to seek evidence of life. Earth (top left) has several gases in its atmosphere that reveal the presence of life, primarily oxygen and ozone. The new study finds that for the early Earth (bottom left), the combination of abundant methane and carbon dioxide would provide an alternative sign of life. Image Credit: NASA/Wikimedia Commons/Joshua Krissansen-Totton

January 24, 2018 – As NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and other new giant telescopes come online they will need novel strategies to look for evidence of life on other planets. A University of Washington study has found a simple approach to look for life that might be more promising than just looking for oxygen. Read More

Marillyn Hewson To Be Featured Speaker At 34th Space Symposium

Marillyn Hewson, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin.

January 24, 2018 – The Space Foundation’s annual Space Symposium provides an opportunity for global space professionals to hear firsthand about how industry decisions are made and the possible global impact of those decisions. Marillyn Hewson, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin, will address the importance of space to the economy and the future, as well as the critical role of strategic investment and innovation for positively shaping the final frontier. Read More

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New Horizons Prepares For Encounter With 2014 MU69
Source: The Planetary Society

Somewhere in the dense star field in front of the New Horizons spacecraft, an invisible object is hiding. Throughout 2018, New Horizons will arrow toward 2014 MU69, whiffing past at 05:33 on January 1, 2019 (UTC). The small team of scientists and engineers working on New Horizons’ Kuiper-belt extended mission has already laid out its plans for the encounter. Fine details will change as the team updates and improves its knowledge of the size, shape, and location of 2014 MU69 and any satellites, but the outline of the encounter has been fixed.

Comtech Receives An Award In Excess Of $11.0 Million From Major U.S. Space Contractor
Source: Comtech Telecommunications Corp.

Comtech Telecommunications Corp. announced today that during its second quarter of fiscal 2018, its Command & Control Technologies group, which is part of Comtech’s Government Solutions segment, has received a letter contract from a major U.S. space contractor to source and test space level Electrical, Electronic and Electromechanical (EEE) parts in support of a critical NASA program. This contract is valued in excess of $11.0 million and was initially funded in excess of $4.0 million.

Momentous Static Fire Test Moves SpaceX Falcon Heavy Closer To Maiden Launch
Source: Spaceflight101

SpaceX’s tri-core Falcon Heavy rocket breathed fire for the first time on Wednesday atop its Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad, igniting all 27 Merlin engines on the rocket’s business end for a 12-second test firing designed to collect valuable data – not only on the behavior of the engines but also the rocket’s structure as a whole. Data gathered from Wednesday’s critical test firing will help SpaceX solidify schedules for Falcon Heavy’s big day, currently looking at early February for the long-awaited maiden flight.

Successful First Test For The Ariane 6 Vulcain Engine
Source: Ariane Group

The Vulcain 2.1 engine, which will power the main stage of Ariane 6, has completed a successful first test firing. The test was carried out on behalf of ArianeGroup by the DLR (German Aerospace Center) at its Lampoldshausen site.

Europa And Other Planetary Bodies May Have Extremely Low-Density Surfaces
Source: Planetary Science Institute

Spacecraft landing on Jupiter’s moon Europa could see the craft sink due to high surface porosity, research by Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Robert Nelson shows. Nelson was the lead author of a laboratory study of the photopolarimetric properties of bright particles that explain unusual negative polarization behavior at low phase angles observed for decades in association with atmosphereless bodies including asteroids 44 Nysa, 64 Angelina and the Galilean satellites Io, Europa and Ganymede.

European-Russian Space Mission Steps Up The Search For Life On Mars
Source: Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

In 2013, the European Space Agency and Roscosmos — the Russian governmental body responsible for space research — agreed to cooperate on ExoMars, the first joint interplanetary mission between ESA and Russia. This project now involves scientists from 29 research organizations, including MIPT and the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which is the leading contributor of hardware and equipment on the Russian side. By now, the first package of observation instruments has been delivered into Mars orbit to seek the minor chemical components of the planet’s atmosphere that may be traces of primitive life.

Air Force Pushes Ahead With Rocket Engine Efforts
Source: National Defense

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s initiative to help lessen the service’s reliance on Russia’s RD-180 rocket engine has passed a major milestone, according to service officials. The kick pump of the hydrocarbon boost program recently completed testing at different power levels, said program manager Robert Bernstein. The program is aimed at developing advanced staged combustion cycle technologies.

Chasing Dark Matter With The Oldest Stars In The Milky Way
Source: Princeton University

Just how quickly is the dark matter near Earth zipping around? The speed of dark matter has far-reaching consequences for modern astrophysical research, but this fundamental property has eluded researchers for years. In a paper published Jan. 22 in the journal Physical Review Letters, an international team of astrophysicists provided the first clue: The solution to this mystery, it turns out, lies among some of the oldest stars in the galaxy.

Mars, Venus, Jupiter: Millionaire Behind Red Planet Mission Wants To Colonize Entire Solar System
Source: Newsweek

Bas Lansdorp, the eccentric man behind the Mars One mission, a project designed to send humans on a one-way mission to Mars in 2031, recently explained that Mars is only the first step in his grand dreams to colonize the galaxy. According to Lansdorp, humans may eventually make it to Venus, where they will likely live above the planet’s surface in giant balloon cities.

Back On Earth: Astronaut Talks Aliens, Missions To Mars And Important Research
Source: Fox8.com

What do astronauts really think about UFOs and missions to Mars? Astronaut and Col. Jack Fischer addressed those questions and many more Thursday, speaking to hundreds of people at the NASA Glenn Research Center.

To Stay Competitive In The Launch Business, ULA Courts Commercial Customers
Source: SpaceNews

United Launch Alliance has ruled the military market since its creation in 2006 as a 50-50 joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The rise of SpaceX is threatening that dominance, which explains why ULA is stepping up efforts to market its Atlas 5 launch vehicle to commercial customers. The company announced this week that it has taken over responsibility for the marketing and sales of Atlas 5 from Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services.