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Daily archives "August 4, 2016"

3 Articles

NASA opens CubeSat program to educators and nonprofits

The BisonSat is one example of a CubeSat mission launched by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative on Oct. 8, 2015. Credits: Salish Kootenai College

The BisonSat is one example of a CubeSat mission launched by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative on Oct. 8, 2015. Credit: Salish Kootenai College

NASA has opened access to the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) to accredited education institutions and nonprofit organizations in an effort to help NASA achieve its exploration goals.

In order to promote development of the small, research-focused satellites, CSLI provides CubeSat developers an inexpensive path to space. This should have the effect of advancing research in areas important to NASA’s strategic interests: science, exploration, technology development, education, and operations. Selectees will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience with flight hardware development.

Interested institutions must submit proposals by 4:30 pm EST, Nov. 22, 2016, and NASA will make selections by Feb. 17, 2017, though selection does not guarantee the satellite will be afforded a launch opportunity. NASA has selected 119 CubeSat missions to date, with 46 of them having already been launched. Historically, the agency has offered launch opportunities to 95 percent of selectees from previous announcements.

CubeSats belong to the ‘nanosatellite’ class of research spacecraft, and are sized in standardized units. One cube, or 1U, is approximately 4x4x4 inches (10x10x11 centimeters), typically have a mass of approximately 3 pounds (1.33 kilograms) per 1U cube when arranged in 1U, 2U, and 3U configurations. A larger 6U CubeSat may tip the scales at more than 26.5 pounds (12-14 kilograms), with the deployment method determining the final mass. The CubeSat Launch Initiative will support 1U, 2U, 3U, and 6U craft.

Selected CubeSats will fly as auxiliary payload on NASA launches, or will be deployed from the International Space Station (ISS), beginning in 2017 through 2020. Selectees will be responsible for funding the development of their satellite.

For more information, visit NASA’s CSLI website.

Aerojet Rocketdyne awarded contract for Dream Chaser’s power system

Aerojet Rocketdyne has been awarded the contract to build the power distribution system for Dream Chaser. Artist's rendering, credit: SNC

Aerojet Rocketdyne has been awarded the contract to build the power distribution system for Dream Chaser. Artist’s rendering, credit: SNC

Aerojet Rocketdyne has been selected to supply the electrical power distribution system for Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft. The company will be responsible for designing, developing, manufacturing, and testing the system, followed by integration into the reusable spacecraft’s power network.

“Aerojet Rocketdyne is honored to supply a critical power management system for a spacecraft that will deliver supplies to astronauts living and working onboard the space station,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake in a news release. “We have been instrumental in efficiently and effectively managing power on the station for decades. We look forward to building upon that experience with Sierra Nevada Corporation, and developing future power systems for use on commercial missions, as well as NASA exploration programs and in-space transportation.”

Read much more in my full write-up at SpaceFlight Insider.

Speedy Solar Probe Plus gets green light to proceed

An artist’s rendering of the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft during one of its planned gravity assists at Venus. The spacecraft will reach speeds near 450,000 MPH at perihelion. Image credit: NASA / JHUAPL

An artist’s rendering of the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft during one of its planned gravity assists at Venus. The spacecraft will reach speeds near 450,000 MPH at perihelion. Image credit: NASA / JHUAPL

NASA’s Solar Probe Plus has passed an important design review milestone and can now proceed to assembly and integration in preparation for its scheduled summer 2018 launch date. Currently comprising only a primary structure and propulsion system, the assembly can now move forward with the installation of the remainder of the spacecraft’s systems and science instruments.

Solar Probe Plus is slated to launch atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy during a 20-day window that opens on July 31, 2018. Though heading to study the Sun, the center of the Solar System, the craft will need to make use of several gravity-assist maneuvers with Venus in order to reach its desired orbit.

You can read more in my full write-up at SpaceFlight Insider.