NASA’s New Ventures

Published on May 28, 2016

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NASA made an announcement to initiate its subsequent mission in the New Frontiers line – an overpriced project of $1 billion involving robotic solar-system explorers – in 2016.

This New Frontiers mission is controlled by only one chief researcher, the one who holds the responsibility of curtailing the cost of developing the mission below $ 1 billion.

Consistent with the space news report, the cost of a launch vehicle, roofed within the Program of the Launch Services, does not come under the cost cap.

NASA’s planetary sciences chief, Dr. Jim Green is pursuing to progress with the recent contest of the New Frontiers, expected to commence in 2020.

“Currently we are on the verge of witnessing the program of the New Frontier, spreading its wings further than Osiris-Rex”, this is what Jim Green said to the Assessment Group of the Outer Planets (OPAG), who are on the advisory panel at the NASA’S Ames Research Center situated in Mountain View California.

According to the recent report, OSIRIS-Rex (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification and Security-Regolith Explorer), has planned its launch in September 2016 for gathering and returning a specimen of the asteroid called Bennu.

OPAG was licensed in 2004 for laying down priorities in science for the purpose of exploring the superficial solar system.

In the 5th New Frontier contest commencing in 2020, NASA looks attentively into every mission that is included in the 4th contest starting in 2016.

For launching small satellites, NASA makes use of new Rocket Rides

No more will the small satellites get linked to the bigger ones for launching them.

NASA granted a sum of $17.1 million to 3 companies for launching alternative Cubesats; previously they were tagged to larger rockets as secondary payloads. [Cubesats: Tiny, Versatile Spacecraft Explained (Info graphic)]

The Rocket Lab of USA based at Los-Angeles was given $6.9 million; $5.5 million was given to the Firefly space systems belonging to Cedar Park of Texas; and $4.7 million was given to the Virgin Galactic LLC, belonging to Long Beach, of California, all these were given in 3 different fixed price contracts to “Venture Class Launch Services” (VCLS). The stipulations give to the contracts were that every company will launch 132 lbs. (60 kilograms) of cubesats of the low Earth orbits within April 2018. The objective set for these 3 launches is to make obvious the technology of rockets in lifting cubesats from the ground in the most efficient and economical manner, on trajectories exclusively designed for them, in the coming years.

The fundamental building blocks of cubesats comprise of the measurement of a cube of 4 inches (10 cm.) Satellites measuring thrice these cubes are called 3U cubesats, Satellites measuring 6 of these cubes put together is called 6U, and so on.

Thanks to the modern developments in electronic and computer technology, vast amount of amenities is stuffed in these minute, less-expensive packages. Moreover, in 2016, 2 6U cubesats are about to fly to Mars, for facilitating communication while entering and descending and landing of the NASA InSight Lander.

The current cubesat technology promotes training on flight research and practical engineering, with added reliability, dedicated and affordable right of entry to space on tiny launchers, constellations of small satellites and cubesats are capable enough to reform the science in the capabilities and systems of observing the earth from the space.

Even though the 3 companies that were given the contract of VCLS are yet to fly their commercial missions, by their launch vehicles, the 3 of them are progressing towards their vision.

For instance, the Firefly Space systems, engaged in the development of a rocket, named Alpha, of late, succeeded in carrying out a ground test for its engine. The company representatives are of the opinion that when Alpha succeeds in running, it will be able to launch tiny payloads to the orbit just for $8 million for a single liftoff.

Recently Virgin Galactic has carried out a ground test for the engine of its Launcher one rocket; this is expected to blast off from a height of 50,000 feet (15,000 meters), when a carrier aircraft drops it. (The sub-orbital space plane of Virgin’s tourist and the Space Ship will also launch in the similar manner). In Virgin Galactic’s opinion, the cost of launcher, one lift off is below $ 10 million for a piece.

In the mean time, Rocket lab representatives, those who lately signed a contract for launching the Moon, Express’ private Lander in 2017, are of the opinion that the Electron rocket ‘company’s maiden flight is supposed to take place in the beginning of 2016. The present cost of Electron launcher is $ 4.9 million for one.

According to the officials of NASA, the payloads for the 3 flights which come under contracts of VCLS are awaiting assignment.

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