Showing posts from November, 2019

NASA shows off stunning new Moon lander concept

As NASA gets ready to return to the Moon in 2024, the space agency is working on new designs for a lunar lander, including a futuristic design it shared on Monday. NASA showed off concept art of a lander that will use "top-tier technology" in order to not only land on Earth's celestial satellite, but collect data from it as well. One recent study showed that a "mid-sized" lander would have a rover go to the polar regions of the Moon, NASA said in a release on its website. “This lander was designed with simplicity in mind to deliver a 300 kilogram rover to a lunar pole," said Logan Kennedy, the project's lead systems engineer, in the release. "We used single string systems, minimal mechanisms and existing technology to reduce complexity, though advancements in precision landing were planned to avoid hazards and to benefit rover operations. We keep the rover alive through transit and landing so it can go do its job.” According to a technical

Blue Origin’s New Glenn launch pad taking shape at Cape Canaveral

New Glenn to launch from Launch Complex 36 in 2021 CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The water tower for Blue Origin’s future launch site is beginning to rise above Cape Canaveral as work continues to pick up speed on the facility. Blue Origin, the company founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, plans to begin launching its reusable New Glenn rocket from Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in early 2021. Work has been ongoing on the launch complex preparing for New Glenn’s first launch but recently locals say it’s starting to take shape. Space Florida’s Dale Ketcham called it a “monster” of a launch pad. “It is going to be a beast,” Ketcham said. In 2015, Blue Origin leased the launch site from the Air Force. Two years later it completed construction on its massive blue-and-white rocket factory outside Kennedy Space Center gates in Exploration Park. Recent photos taken by photographer Greg Scott from Exploration Tower in Port Canaveral show the

SpaceX's Starship provides an opportunity for NASA's Artemis program

Recently NASA announced that five more companies had been added to the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program (CLPS). One such company, SpaceX, has raised some eyebrows in aerospace circles because Elon Musk’s rocket business is offering the Starship as a lunar lander. Companies that are included in the CLPS program will be able to bid on missions that will deliver small instrument packages and rovers to the lunar surface. One upcoming mission is a rover called Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER), which will prospect for ice at the lunar south pole. The CLPS payloads will mass upwards of about 1,000 kilograms. But Starship is advertised as being able to deliver 100 metric tons to the lunar surface. Using Starship to deliver a CLPS payload to the moon is the equivalent of using a moving van when a pickup truck would suffice. Ars Technica explains that Starship’s inclusion in the CLPS program offers “SpaceX some validation that if it fully develops

NASA Picks SpaceX, Blue Origin and More to Join Private Moon Lander Project

NASA has recruited SpaceX's Starship, Blue Origin's Blue Moon and three other commercial lunar lander ideas to join its Artemis moon program. Today (Nov. 18), NASA announced the selection of SpaceX, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada Corp., Ceres Robotics and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Inc. to join its Commercial Lunar Payload Services program (CLPS). The five companies can now vie to deliver robotic payloads to the lunar surface for NASA, helping to pave the way for the return of astronauts to the moon by 2024. "American aerospace companies of all sizes are joining the Artemis program," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. "Expanding the group of companies who are eligible to bid on sending payloads to the moon's surface drives innovation and reduces costs to NASA and American taxpayers. We anticipate opportunities to deliver a wide range of science and technology payloads to help make our vision for lunar exploration a reality and advanc