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Thales Alenia Space to develop pressurized modules for Axiom’s private space station

More details are beginning to emerge on Houston-based Axiom Space’s ambitious project to build and operate the world’s first commercial space station.
Thales Alenia Space, a European aerospace manufacturer, will develop the two pressurized modules of the Axiom Space Station. The two elements, which are scheduled to launch in 2024 and 2025, will dock to the International Space Station before eventually detaching and operating as fully independent, commercial station.
The two companies announced the signing of the final contract, valued at €110 million ($130 million), on Thursday. Each module will be able to accommodate four people. Thales will also be designing the …

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General Motors, Lockheed Martin to develop new lunar rover for NASA Artemis missions to the moon

The last time humans visited the moon in 1972, they got around on a relatively simple battery-powered vehicle. As NASA prepares for the next crewed mission to the moon, it’s looking to give the lunar rover an upgrade.
Lockheed Martin and General Motors said Wednesday they’re working together to develop a next-generation lunar vehicle designed to be faster and capable of traveling farther distances than its predecessor. If the project is selected by NASA, the rover would be used on the upcoming Artemis missions. The first mission, which will be an uncrewed test flight, is scheduled for November. The …

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Axiom Space and NASA detail first fully private human launch to the Space Station, set for January 2022

Houston-based startup Axiom Space and NASA unveiled more details Monday about the forthcoming Axiom Mission 1 (AX-1), the first fully private human mission to the International Space Station.
The Axiom Mission 1 (AX-1) spaceflight mission will ferry four private astronauts to the International Space Station in January 2022. The eight-day mission will be launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida using a SpaceX Crew Dragon. While in space, the crew will be living and working in the U.S. segment of the ISS.
NASA will be paying Axiom $1.69 million for services associated with the mission, such as transporting supplies to the …

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How one founder partnered with NASA to make tires puncture-proof and more sustainable

This week’s episode of Found features The SMART Tire Company co-founder and CEO Earl Cole, a one-time Survivor champion whose startup is working with NASA to commercialize some of its space-age tech. Cole won a NASA startup competition seeking entrepreneurs to work with its scientists and researchers on applications of innovations it created for space exploration that could work right here on Earth, helping people while also forming the basis for a commercially-viable business.
For Cole, that resulted in The SMART Tire Company, a venture that’s using tech NASA developed to create more durable, puncture-proof tires to equip …

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NASA SBIR march 21

NASA’s SBIR program regularly doles out cash to promising small businesses and research programs, and the lists of awardees is always interesting to sift through. Here are a dozen companies and proposals from this batch that are especially compelling or suggest new directions for missions and industry in space.
Sadly these brief descriptions are often all that is available. These things are often so early stage that there’s nothing to show but some equations and a drawing on the back of a napkin — but NASA knows promising work when it sees it. (You can learn more about how …

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Space startup Gitai raises $17.1M to help build the robotic workforce of commercial space

Japanese space startup Gitai has raised a $17.1 million funding round, a Series B financing for the robotics startup. This new funding will be used for hiring, as well as funding the development and execution of an on-orbit demonstration mission for the company’s robotic technology, which will show its efficacy in performing in-space satellite servicing work. That mission is currently set to take place in 2023.
Gitai will also be staffing up in the U.S., specifically, as it seeks to expand its stateside presence in a bid to attract more business from that market.
“We are proceeding well in the …

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Astra awarded NASA launch contract for storm observation satellites

Astra, the Alameda-based space launch startup that recently announced its intent to go public via a SPAC merger, has secured a contract to deliver six cube satellites to space on behalf of NASA. Astra stands to be paid $7.95 million by the agency for fulfilment of the contract. This will be a key test of Astra’s responsive rocket capabilities, with a planned three-launch mission profile spanning up to four months, currently targeting sometime between January 8 and July 31 of 2022.
The satellites are for NASA’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of SmallSats (TROPICS) mission, which …

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NASA picks SpaceX Falcon Heavy for $332M mission to launch lunar Gateway components in 2024

NASA has announced that SpaceX will take two major parts of the Gateway lunar orbiter that will function as a pit stop for future moon missions. The Power and Propulsion Element and Habitation and Logistics Outpost — which together will form the first usable lunar space station — will go up in 2024 on a Falcon Heavy, with an estimated price tag of $332 million.
The Falcon Heavy, which provides a far larger lift capacity than SpaceX’s now commonly used Falcon 9, has only had two commercial launches since its successful test launch in early 2018 (with Starman and a Tesla Roadster, you may remember). …

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Firefly will light up the moon with $93M lunar lander contract from NASA

NASA has awarded Firefly Aerospace a $93.3 million contract to take a lunar lander module loaded with experiments to the surface of the moon. While the company will not be performing the launch itself, it will be providing the spacecraft and “Blue Ghost” lander for the 2023 mission.
The space agency made the award as part of its ongoing Commercial Lunar Payload Services, under which several other non-prime space companies have been selected for similar work: Blue Origin, Astrobotic, Masten and so on.

This particular contract was first publicized to its CLPS partners back in September, which would have submitted bids for …

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Astronaut Anne McClain on designing and piloting the next generation of spacecraft

NASA recently announced the astronauts who will be taking part in the Artemis missions, and among them is Anne McClain, who has spent 203 days in orbit and conducted two spacewalks on the ISS. With the space industry looking nothing like it did 10 years ago and new spacecraft and technologies on the rise, McClain share her thoughts about how she and other astronauts would be embracing the future.
Lt. Col. McClain’s time aboard the ISS spanned from December 2018 to June of 2019, meaning her ascent and descent were both aboard Russia’s Soyuz capsules, as astronauts have gotten to and from …

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