An Orbital Sciences Cygnus cargo ship reached the International Space Station early Sunday and was captured by the lab’s robot arm. The successful rendezvous marked a major milestone for NASA and a program to fund development of commercial cargo carries to replace capacity lost with the space shuttle’s retirement. (Credit: NASA TV)
See more at: Full Recovery Unlikely for NASA’s Kepler Planet-Hunting Spacecraft.
A sad but not surprising outcome, an unfortunate curtailment of the epoch opening instruments discoveries.
AWST Staff: Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report : NASA Calls For Private Lunar Lander Partners
Piggybacking on the Google Lunar X Prize and various commercial endeavors, NASA has offered its expertise and test facilities to potential lunar-lander partners who might be able to help mount scientific missions to the Moon’s surface as early as 2018.
A request for information published July 2 seeks concepts for “an industry-developed robotic lander that can be integrated with a launch vehicle for the purposes of supporting commercial (and potentially future NASA) missions.”
The U.S. space agency is interested in landers that can put two classes of payload on the lunar surface — 30-100 kg. (70-220 lb.) and 250-450 kg. Potential missions “of interest to NASA” include prospecting for volatiles at the Moon’s poles, sample return and setting up geophysical networks.
“U.S. industry is flourishing with innovative ideas based on NASA’s pioneering work to explore space, including low-Earth orbit and the Moon,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations (HEO) in Washington. He suggested that, data from commercial lunar landers, like space station research, could aid the agency’s plans to explore an asteroid and Mars.
“New robotic commercial capabilities on the Moon could extend that research in important ways, just as NASA expertise could help advance commercial endeavors to reach the Moon.”
The HEO directorate is proposing no-exchange-of-funds partnerships under Space Act agreements or other mechanisms, offering its technical expertise, unique test facilities, and some hardware and software to private companies willing to put up funding for lander development.
“NASA envisions that an integrated team comprised of NASA civil servants and the industry partner personnel could work together to design, develop and test landers,” the RFI says.
Responses to the RFI are due Aug. 2. Interest in private lunar landers has soared over the past three years after Google offered $30 million in prizes through the X Prize Foundation to teams that can land a robotic spacecraft on the lunar surface, have it move at least 500 meters, and send back video, images and data. Presently 22 teams worldwide are in the running, working against a deadline of Dec. 31, 2015.
‘Nuff said, really cool stuff
…NASA didn’t use ABS plastic that most 3D-printers use. Instead, the agency used custom 3D printers to spray layers of metallic powder using lasers. The lasers spray the powder in a specific pattern in order to come up with the desired shape for an object. In this case: a rocket engine injector.
Read more at: Slash/Gear http://www.slashgear.com/nasa-3d-printed-rocket-injector-undergoes-first-test-firing-12290238/
We can hope that it lasts long enough for a new manned or unmanned service mission. Hubble would seem to be an ideal target for a robotic repair mission demonstrating sophisticated, heavy weight-complex repair mission/capability.
WIRED: Why We Can’t Send Humans to Mars Yet (And How We’ll Fix That)
BY ADAM MANN
This is a good article and it has an excellent recap of needed technology, but it is in my opinion reduced in power by a negative tone. It seems biased by a drum beat I have been seeing about how hard, how expensive, how risky…etc, and while I appreciate the challenges one does not open frontiers by dwelling on all the horrid ways one is likely to die. This also seems Blue centric NASA, NASA, NASA. In the end the commercial civilian drive will send us outbound not risk averse bureaucrats.
Vision of an international research base on the Moon. Credit: ESA
Two months ago NASA commissioned Bigelow Aerospace to conduct a survey of the corporate sector to learn about private enterprise plans for space exploration. While the report has not yet been completed, Bigelow president Robert Bigelow and NASA’s head of space operations William Gerstenmaier held a teleconference with reporter’s to discuss findings thus far
Bigelow told those on the line that he and his company have surveyed approximately 20 of the biggest names in aerospace, including some foreign entities. He says the major area of interest for aerospace companies right now is in establishing a permanent presence on the moon. Gerstenmaier responded by suggesting NASA would welcome such a development as it would work well with the agency’s future plans.