Tag: SpaceX

Space Force Considering NASA-Style Partnerships With Private Companies

Article by Sandra Erwin                           June 4, 2020                          (spacenews.com)

• The launch of a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on May 30th that took NASA astronauts to the International Space Station was the “culmination of perhaps the most successful private-public partnership of all times,” said Colonel Eric Felt, head of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate. In a SpaceNews online event June 4th, Felt noted that Space Force will be far smaller than the other U.S. military services, so it plans to follow the NASA playbook and team up with the private sector. “The Space Force is going to be the most high tech of all of the services,” said Felt.

• Public-private partnerships, like deals with SpaceX and Boeing, have saved NASA billions of dollars. There are many commercial capabilities that can be used to meet military needs, with “hybrid architecture”. For example, commercial companies already have powerful sensors and data analytics systems to track and investigate space objects. The Space Force’s AFRL is looking into public-private deals to use these commercial satellites to enhance its “space domain awareness”, allowing Space Force to monitor every object in outer space. (see video below)

• Another application using private satellites in low Earth orbit is for the deployment of sensors for the Air Force’s ‘Advanced Battle Management System’, allowing the military to integrate and analyze data from space rather than from the more vulnerable command-and-control airplanes flying over enemy territory.

• Next year, AFRL plans to launch an experimental ‘cubesat’ satellite equipped with a ‘Link 16’ encrypted radio frequency data link, widely used on U.S. military and NATO aircraft and ground vehicles to share information, as a communications network relay in space. With “one of these Link 16 transponders (attached to) each of these low Earth orbit satellites, you would basically have Link 16 capability everywhere all the time,” said Felt.

• Private companies deploying broadband satellite constellations in low Earth orbit would be candidates for partnerships where these commercial satellites would also host government communications. The Defense Innovation Unit of the AFRL and the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center have been talking about setting up a ‘space commodities exchange’ where space services could be traded like commodities. “The space domain awareness data might be a great example of the kinds of things that the Space Force could purchase through a space commodities exchange,” said Felt.

 

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force will be far smaller than the other military services but way more dependent on technology to do its job. While the Space Force will develop satellites and other technologies in-house, it also plans to follow the NASA playbook and team up with the private sector, said Col. Eric Felt, head of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate.

       Colonel Eric Felt

Speaking at a SpaceNews online event June 4, Felt said NASA’s commercial crew program is “super exciting” and one that the Space Force can learn from.

The launch of a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on May 30 that took NASA astronauts to the International Space Station was the “culmination of perhaps the most successful private-public partnership of all times,” said Felt.

The Space Vehicles Directorate, located at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, is one of the organizations that Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett agreed to transfer to the Space Force. Felt said his office will remain at its current location but approximately 700 people will be reassigned to the Space Force.

“The Space Force is going to be the most high tech of all of the services,” said Felt.

Public-private partnerships like NASA’s commercial crew deals with SpaceX and Boeing have saved NASA billions of dollars and serve as a “powerful model” that the Defense Department could adopt, said Felt.

1:02:30 video on military/corporate partnerships for Space Force (‘SpaceNewsInc’ YouTube)

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NASA Sets Out Its Red Lines for 2024 Moon Landing

Article by John Varge                                May 16, 2020                             (express.co.uk)

• The ‘Artemis Program’ is NASA’s project – supported by other international space programs and private companies – to establish a permanent human settlement on the Moon by 2028, beginning by landing two astronauts near the lunar south pole in 2024. On May 15th, NASA officials revealed the core values underpinning its mission in a document called the Artemis Accords (see here). NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted: “Today I’m honored to announce the #Artemis Accords agreements — establishing a shared vision and set of principles for all international partners that join in humanity’s return to the Moon. We go, together.”

• NASA said its over-riding vision was to “create a safe and transparent environment which facilitates exploration, science and commercial activities for all of humanity to enjoy.” This vision is in accordance with the “peaceful purposes only” principles enshrined in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, the founding document of international space law, which has been ratified by more than 100 countries, including the US.

• The Accords seek to ensure no “harmful interference” by one nation in the off-Earth affairs of another, and to publicly disclose their exploration plans and policies as well as sharing their scientific data. Artemis partners pledge to protect historic sites and artefacts on the Moon and other cosmic locales, as well as to help minimize space-junk.

• Private Moon landers will begin to ferry NASA science and technology experiments to the lunar surface next year. The Accords also cover the space mining of resources on the Moon, Mars and asteroids conducted under the auspices of the Outer Space Treaty. Moon landers will be built by commercial companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX. SpaceX is currently developing its huge ‘Starship’ vehicle to help colonize Mars. Starship will launch atop a huge rocket called ‘Super Heavy’, but will land on, and launch off of, the Moon and Mars on its own. Other companies awarded contracts, worth a total of $967 million for 10 months of work, are Blue Origin and Dynetics.

• NASA’s Jim Bridenstine said, “This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis program.” “America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024,” including the first woman set foot on the lunar surface.

 

The US Space Agency has always recognised that international cooperation will be vital if its Artemis programme is to succeed. Artemis is the ambitious project to land two astronauts near the lunar south pole in 2024, as a precursor to establishing a permanent human lunar settlement by 2028. On Friday, NASA officials revealed the core values underpinning its mission in a document called the Artemis Accords, which stress the peaceful nature of its exploration.

In a tweet, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote: “It’s a new dawn for space exploration!

NASA’s Jim Bridenstine and SpaceX’s Elon Musk, doing his famous ‘Zoolander’ impression

“Today I’m honored to announce the #Artemis Accords agreements — establishing a shared vision and set of principles for all international partners that join in humanity’s return to the Moon.

“We go, together.”

In accordance with principles enshrined in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, NASA said its over-riding vision was to “create a safe and transparent environment which facilitates exploration, science and commercial activities for all of humanity to enjoy.”

The outer Space Treaty (OST) is the founding document of international space law.

It has been ratified by more than 100 countries, including the United States and other leading space powers.

The OTS stipulates that space exploration should be carried out for peaceful purposes only.

Artemis partners will also be required to be completely transparent about their activities, which means publicly disclosing their exploration plans and policies as well as sharing their scientific data.

The Accords also cover space mining, which NASA sees as key to humanity’s exploration efforts over the long haul.

NASA officials said the ability to extract and use resources on the moon, Mars and even asteroids would be critical “to support safe and sustainable space exploration and development”.

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Forget Coronavirus, Alien Virus From Mars Could Create Chaos on Earth

Article by Nirmal Narayanan                            May 9, 2020                          (ibtimes.sg)

• NASA and private space companies like SpaceX are gearing up for human Mars colonization missions in the near future. NASA and top space scientists are concerned about viruses from other planets, and that strict protocols should be followed as astronauts return back to Earth.

• Stanford professor of aeronautics and astronautics Scott Hubbard thinks that astronauts returning from the space should live on quarantine for a specific period of time. “In my opinion, and that of the science community, the chance that rocks from Mars that are millions of years old will contain an active life form that could infect Earth is extremely low,” said Hubbard. “But, the Mars samples returned by NASA will be quarantined and treated as though they are the Ebola virus until proven safe.”

• Detailing the standard protocol that should be followed while quarantining astronauts coming back from Mars, Hubbard offered, “As for humans, the Apollo astronauts from the first few Moon missions were quarantined to ensure they showed no signs of illness. Once it was found that the Moon did not pose a risk, the quarantine was eliminated. Such a procedure will undoubtedly be followed for humans returning from Mars.”

 

As the coronavirus continues its killing spree on earth, a section of space experts believe that humans have to think seriously about alien viruses that could reach the earth during space missions.

Even though this concept may seem like a plot directly coming out from a Hollywood sci-fi film, space agencies like NASA and top space scientists are really bothered about viruses from other planets contaminating the earth.

The Mars mission dilemma

It should be noted that NASA and private space companies like SpaceX are gearing up for human Mars missions in the near future. As the Mars colonization mission progresses in full swing, experts warn that strict protocols should be followed to extraterrestrial pollutants attacking earth, as astronauts return back to the ground.

Scott Hubbard, a Stanford professor of aeronautics and astronautics revealed that astronauts returning from the space should live on quarantine for a specific period of time to prevent a possible virus attack from space.

“In my opinion, and that of the science community, the chance that rocks from Mars that are millions of years old will contain an active life form that could infect Earth is extremely low. But, the Mars samples returned by NASA will be quarantined and treated as though they are the Ebola virus until proven safe,” Hubbard told Stanford News.

Hubbard also detailed about the standard protocol that should be followed while quarantining astronauts coming back from Mars. “As for humans, the Apollo astronauts from the first few moon missions were quarantined to ensure they showed no signs of illness. Once it was found that the moon did not pose a risk, the quarantine was eliminated. Such a procedure will undoubtedly be followed for humans returning from Mars,” added Hubbard.

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