Showing posts from January, 2020

NASA selects Axiom Space to build commercial space station module

WASHINGTON — NASA has selected a startup led by a former International Space Station program manager to develop a commercial module for the station.

NASA announced Jan. 27 that Houston-based Axiom Space will win access to a docking port on the station, to which the company will install a commercial module for research and other applications. The agency said that it will begin negotiations on a formal contract with Axiom, with a five-year base period and a two-year option.

Axiom was founded in 2016 by Kam Ghaffarian, who previously led space industry engineering services company Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, and Michael Suffredini, who was program manager for the ISS at NASA for a decade prior to his retirement from the agency in 2015. The company has several former astronauts in leadership positions, including former NASA administrator Charles Bolden, listed as a “business development consultant” on the company’s website.

Axiom says it believes that experience, as well as an indus…

U.S., China set for spring Civil Space Dialogue on exploration, science

HELSINKI — U.S. and Chinese officials are working towards meeting for a bilateral Civil Space Dialogue around March in the first such discussion since 2017.

“The U.S. and China were not able to schedule a Civil Space Dialogue in 2019, but are in the planning stage for the U.S. to host the Dialogue during the first half of 2020,” a State Department official told SpaceNews.

No reason for the inability to schedule the meeting, earlier reported as to be expected in fall 2019, was offered. The U.S. and China last week agreed a ‘phase 1’ trade deal after nearly two years of trade hostilities.

Matthew Rydin, NASA press secretary and senior communications advisor, confirmed in an email to SpaceNews that the next U.S.-China Civil Space Dialogue, co-chaired for the U.S. by the State Department, is being planned in the March 2020 timeframe.

“The State Department is developing an agenda that will include areas of mutual interest concerning civil space exploration and science.”

The U.S.-China Civi…

SpaceX Mars city: Elon Musk reveals how you will pay for your trip

Don't have the cash for a Mars trip? No problem.
Want to “get your ass to Mars,” as Buzz Aldrin is keen on saying? Turns out Elon Musk may have a means to help you foot the bill.
The SpaceX CEO, who has big dreams about building a million-strong city on Mars by 2050, revealed more details last week about how regular citizens could take part in humanity’s multi-planetary future. While the riches could afford to pay for the trip upfront, Musk is proposing a loan system where visitors would work in the Mars city to pay back the cost of the flight.
“Needs to be such that anyone can go if they want, with loans available for those who don’t have money,” Musk wrote on Twitter January 17.
SpaceX Mars city: how much would it cost?
In February 2019, Musk suggested that a return ticket would cost around $500,000, possibly even dropping to $100,000 over time. At a 2016 conference, Musk said his goal was to reach around $200,000 to meet the median cost of a house in the United States. Musk has…

SpaceX aims to launch astronauts this spring after Crew Dragon escape test success

The landmark crewed flight will likely take place in 2020's second quarter, Elon Musk said.
The first piloted flight of SpaceX's Crew Dragon astronaut taxi is likely just a few months away, now that a critical safety test is in the rearview mirror.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule aced an in-flight abort test Sunday morning (Jan. 19), successfully jetting away from its Falcon 9 rocket less than 90 seconds after liftoff and ultimately splashing down softly under parachutes in the Atlantic Ocean, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) off the Florida coast.

The uncrewed test demonstrated the spacecraft's ability to keep astronauts safe in the event of a launch emergency, marking a big step on the path toward crewed flight.

"Congratulations to SpaceX and the entire NASA team on this final major flight milestone that we needed to accomplish," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a postlaunch news conference on Sunday.

There's still some work to do before SpaceX…

Space Industry Investments Hit Record High As Venture Capital Seeks The Next SpaceX

Venture capitalists invested in $5.8 billion in 178 commercial space startups worldwide last year, up 38% in dollar terms from the prior year, making 2019 the biggest year for private space investments, according to a new report from venture capital firm Space Angels.

U.S. billionaire-backed startups Blue Origin and SpaceX accounted for about 41% of the dollar investments, which extended to space ventures in China and the United Kingdom. More investors also sought to get in on companies at later stages.

“We believe this reflects a healthy maturation of the entrepreneurial space ecosystem as early-stage companies graduate from concept to growth,” CEO Chad Anderson said in an email that accompanied the report.

Amazon cofounder Jeff Bezos invested about $1.4 billion into his company, raising the capital by selling shares of Amazon stock, estimates the report. Elon Musk’s SpaceX wasn’t far behind—the company raised a little over $1 billion in 2019 in series J, K and L rounds, valuing the …

NASA graduates new class of astronauts to join Artemis-era missions

HOUSTON — NASA's newest astronauts are ready to come out of their shells and walk on the moon.

Nicknamed the "Turtles," the space agency's 22nd class of astronauts graduated from basic training and became eligible for spaceflight assignments on Friday (Jan. 10). A ceremony held at the Johnson Space Center in Houston honored the 11 Americans, together with two Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronauts who trained with them.

"Two years ago, this group of new astronuts arrived here at Johnson for the very first time and they already came in with very impressive resumes. Now they have become part of an elite group of people qualified for spaceflight and ready to train for the exciting missions ahead," said Mark Geyer, director of the Johnson Space Center.

"They are beginning a journey that will take them on voyages of exploration like humankind has never seen before," said Geyer.

The new class, which includes six women and seven men, expands NASA's …

NASA's TESS Planet Hunter Finds Its 1st Earth-Size World in 'Habitable Zone'

TOI 700 d is a landmark discovery for NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.
NASA's newest planet hunter just bagged some big game.
For the first time, the agency's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered a roughly Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of its host star, the zone of orbital distances where liquid water could be stable on a world's surface, researchers announced today (Jan. 6).
The newfound exoplanet, known as TOI 700 d, lies just 101.5 light-years from Earth, making it a good candidate for follow-up observations by other instruments, scientists added.
"TESS was designed and launched specifically to find Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby stars," Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a statement. "Planets around nearby stars are easiest to follow up with larger telescopes in space and on Earth. Discovering TOI 700 d is a key science finding for TESS."