Russia is going back to the moon this year
By Meghan Bartels

Russia is revisiting its Soviet space heritage for a new series of missions that will take the nation back to the moon.
The first of those missions, dubbed Luna 25, is scheduled to launch this October, ending a 45-year drought of Russian moon landings with the nation's first arrival at the south pole, where, like everyone else targeting the moon, Russian scientists want to study water locked below the surface in permanent ice.

"The moon is the center of our program for the next decade," Lev Zelenyi, scientific advisor for the Russian Space Research Institute, said during a virtual presentation on March 23 hosted by the National Academy of Sciences.
Russia has plenty of company in sketching out ambitious lunar exploration programs. The United States is targeting human exploration with its Artemis program, which also incorporates plenty of robotic moon missions. In December, China ferried the first fresh lunar samples to Earth in decades in a still-unfolding series of missions dubbed Chang'e. India and Israel have both promised successor spacecraft after their lunar landers — dubbed Chandrayaan-2 and Beresheet, respectively — crash-landed on the moon in 2019.

But only the U.S. can match Russia's lunar heritage, which Russia is consciously tapping into by picking up the Luna series name and enumeration from where they left off in 1976. "We want to show some consistencies," Zelenyi said.
Hence, Luna 25. The lander that will launch in October is designed to study ice permanently frozen below the moon's surface, which would-be explorers hope to tap into as a resource, and to evaluate the dangers posed by sharp fragments of lunar dust. As it lands, the spacecraft will use a European-built camera to advance the European Space Agency's future lunar missions.

But Luna 25 is only the beginning, Zelenyi emphasized, walking through a total of five lunar missions in various planning stages. In 2023 or 2024, Russia plans to launch Luna 26, this time an orbiter that would look for magnetic and gravitational anomalies in the moon and capture high-precision images of potential landing sites.
Then, in 2025, it would be back to the surface with Luna 27, which Zelenyi called "I think the most important." Like the lander arriving this year, Luna 27 will target the moon's south pole and carry European landing software. But also on the robot courtesy of the European Space Agency would be a first: a drill that can gather south-pole lunar rock without melting compounds like water ice found in the material.

In addition, the lander will carry a suite of instruments designed to study how the solar wind, a constant stream of charged particles flowing out of the sun and across the solar system, affects the lunar surface.

The final two missions in the Luna series as described by Zelenyi don't yet have launch dates. But Luna 28, also known as Luna-Grunt, would build directly on its predecessor by bringing back to Earth cryogenically stored samples from the lunar south pole that would retain water ice and other so-called volatile compounds.
"It's sample return, but a different sample return than has been done earlier," Zelenyi said. "It will be ... not just regolith [lunar dirt] but all volatiles and cryogenic inclusions to it, which is technically challenging."
Finally, Luna 29 would carry a new Lunokhod rover, harkening back again to Soviet missions. Lunokhod-1 became the first successful rover on another world in 1970 and spent 10 months exploring the region dubbed Mare Imbrium, or the Sea of Rains.

March 26, 2021
Vol. 275        Issue 58
NASA's Commercial Partnering To Include Space Communications
Mark Carreau,
HOUSTON--NASA's nearly two-decade-long push to establish game-changing commercial partnerships in low Earth orbit operations to expand human exploration and scientific research and grow the economy is broadening its scope to include a new role for private sector communications and navigation assets and services.
In short, NASA is looking to the private sector for more than launch services and cargo deliveries as it makes its way to the Moon and beyond.
As with the agency's pursuit of commercial cargo and crew transportation services to the International Space Station (ISS), which began in 2005, establishing a business environment with multiple vendors in which NASA is one of many users of ground-based receivers and space relay services is likely to evolve, requiring perhaps a decade to mature.
"Our large mission is to create an interoperable and resilient space and ground communication and navigation infrastructure. That's our job, and some of our goals are obviously to enable higher speeds. There's always a push from the agency for more bandwidth, and then doing all of that in a robust, secure and cost-effective way,"  Gregory Heckler, engineering manager for NASA's Space Communications and Navigation Program (SCaN), told a March 17 Future in Space Operations (FISO) virtual forum. "One of the main tiers we are standing up is actually in the near-Earth and the lunar domain to leverage those capabilities more than we have historically."
SCaN, funded at about $500 million annually, oversees NASA's Space Network, Near Earth Network and Deep Space Network (DSN). They are a global collection of ground- and space-based assets and services supporting around-the-clock communications with the ISS, Earth observation satellites and planetary probes. The probes are as distant as Voyagers 1 and 2, launched in 1977 and now respectively more than 14.1 billion and nearly 12 billion mi. from Earth. More than 100 missions are supported overall.
SCaN's future plan is to expand its services through commercial partnerships to support private sector successors to the ISS, while creating a network of global assets at the Moon. Those assets will support human exploration activities at the lunar south pole, the destination of NASA's Artemis missions, and human and robotic activities on the Moon's far and near sides, according to NASA's Andy Petro and Heckler. Petro is leading the development of a lunar communications and navigation network for the agency's Human Exploration and Operations Directorate.
The effort faces some major challenges. They include acceptance of standard interfaces, a supportive radio frequency regulatory framework, and compliance with federal security requirements, Petro and Heckler said.
NASA has assigned Glenn Research Center initial responsibility for demonstrating and planning for the acquisition of future commercial resources for the Space Network. Its assets now include the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRS) that supports ISS communications. While NASA no longer plans to build and deploy TDRS satellites, the current TDRS assets are expected to remain functional into the early 2030s.
SCaN's early transition to orbital commercial services will be focused on new users.
Meanwhile, Goddard Space Flight Center has been assigned responsibility for a more rapid transition to commercially operated ground stations for its direct-to-Earth communications with existing and new deep-space missions. The goal is by 2023.
"As part of the larger low Earth orbit space economy you may have heard of that we are trying to engender, we took a hard look at ourselves. And we understood that commonality of spacecraft without communications with the ground and the ability to navigate, we often call that space junk," Heckler told the forum. "So, there is an opportunity cost that is burdened every day, where if we were not aware of and participating in and leveraging the emerging commercial capabilities not only for putting up mass or executing things in space with spacecraft, but also emerging commercial services in this domain, we would not be doing right by the agency. And we would not be doing right by our users, if we didn't push into this area also fairly aggressively."
At the Moon, SCaN looks to implement commercial Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) support for NASA's Artemis human exploration activities at the lunar south pole and lunar far side robotic missions by 2024, Petro said.
As part of the lunar support, the SCaN initiative looks to limit DSN ground antennas to 18 m in diameter and smaller in order to reserve the existing 34-m antennas for missions already underway or currently in development.
"What's really new and different that we will be looking at and where we are placing our attention right now is orbital relays out around the Moon providing capabilities to line lunar users back to Earth," Petro said.
And while NASA has plans to launch a lunar-orbiting Gateway that could provide some relay capability and temporary crew quarters for astronauts shuttling to and from the Moon's surface, a greater communications need is anticipated.
As currently envisioned, the Artemis initiative includes a lunar south pole base camp. Depending on where the settlement is established, ensuring a continuous line-of-sight, direct-to-Earth communications capability could be limited. Lunar surface exploration activities also may lead to regions where constant communications with Earth would not be possible without lunar orbital relay assets beyond those supportable by Gateway, Petro said.
To support anticipated missions across the lunar landscape, including the Moon's far side, SCaN also is looking at establishing lunar surface communications assets, supporting global coverage in 2024-2028. As NASA establishes a sustained human lunar presence toward the end of the 2020s, the lunar communications infrastructure is expected to continue to evolve by incorporating new technologies, including optical communications.
"Overall, we see the communications and navigation infrastructure lowering the barriers for new missions and capabilities," Petro said. "That will support expanding robotic and human activities at the Moon, and in that sense it's a viral cycle in which having the capacity will enable more missions to be proposed and undertaken at a lower cost than otherwise would be possible if each individual mission has to provide its own communication infrastructure."

March 19, 2021

Vol. 275 Issue 53

13.  Research Effort Suggests Mars Water Not Lost To Space

Mark Carreau, 

Though the Martian surface is now cold and dry, imagery dating back to the 1960s reveals a planet where large amounts of water once flowed and pooled, perhaps contributing to an environment amenable to life.

A new study of data gathered from a steady sequence of NASA Mars orbiters, landers and rovers focused on a "Follow the Water" theme has emerged with a surprise.

While some of the Martian water--estimated to have once been enough to cover the entire surface to a depth of between 100 and 1,500 m (330 to 4,920 ft.)--rose into the atmosphere and escaped thanks to the solar wind, most of it remains on the surface, locked in the soil and rock.

And while there is also evidence for water ice at the Martian poles, vast subsurface water ice deposits and possibly a pond of liquid water at the south pole, the water chemically bound in the soil and rock would be recovered if exposed to temperatures in the range of 300 to 400 deg. centigrade (572 to 752F).

The surprising data that vast amounts of Martian water remain locked in Martian crust was presented at a March 16 news briefing hosted by the virtual 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) and published as "Long-term drying of Mars by sequestration of ocean-scale volumes of water in the crust" in the journal Science.

While Mars formed along with the rest of the Solar System's planets about 4.6 billion years ago, the once-vast water supply disappeared 3 to 4 billion years ago. This was partially by rising into space but primarily by merging into the soil and rock, according to Eva Scheller, a doctoral candidate in geological and planetary science studies at Caltech who led the study. She spoke to the LPSC briefing.

That did not happen on the Earth, which is much more massive than Mars, because of plate tectonics. Plate tectonics, a geological process evident on Earth but not Mars, features distinct layers of crust and upper mantle that move over one another. As Earth's older crust melts into the mantle over time, new crustal plates form and recycle water and other molecular structures back into the atmosphere through volcanism.

"We have always recycled our crust on the Earth through plate tectonics. It's kind of like our crust is continuously getting melted," Sheller said. "The water is locked in the minerals and then escapes back into the atmosphere. At Mars, it's the opposite. Mars did not have the geological processes that enable recycling. Instead, we have water locked in the minerals and they are still there from 4 billion years ago."

The processes for water loss on Mars were determined by Sheller and her colleagues from Caltech, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Michael Meyers, NASA's Mars Exploration Program lead scientist, by comparisons of two types of hydrogen atom, which along with oxygen comprises the water molecule.

Most hydrogen atoms have a nucleus with one proton, but a very small number, about 0.02%, have both a proton and neutron in the nucleus and are categorized as deuterium, or "heavy hydrogen." Hydrogen, because its lighter, escapes the Martian gravity into space more easily than deuterium.

The study determined that between 40% and 95% of Martian surface water was lost between 3.7 and 4.1 billion years ago and that between 30% and 99% of the loss was incorporated into minerals buried in the Martian crust and evidenced as veins in observable clay, sulfate and other water mineral formations in a range of existing land forms.

The researchers determined the remainder escaped into space by comparing the ratio of deuterium to hydrogen currently observed in the Martian crust and thin atmosphere.

NASA's Perseverance Mars 2020 Rover, which touched down Feb. 18 at Jezero Crater on Mars, site of an early crater lake and stream delta, is to gather and cache samples of soil and rock over a two-year primary mission. The materials are to be returned to Earth with a joint NASA/European Space Agency Mars Sample Return mission in 2031, and will help to validate and further explain the ancient Martian environment and its water history, the researchers said.

But the primary objective of the sample return is to seek out evidence of possible biological activity in the samples using tools and techniques too advanced for spaceflight.

Among the missions that contributed to the surprise findings are NASA's still-active Curiosity rover; the Maven, Mars Reconnaissance and Mars Odyssey orbiters and the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter.

Northrop’s MEV-2 servicer closing in on Intelsat-10-02 docking attempt
by Jason Rainbow — March 10, 2021
TAMPA, Fla. — Northrop Grumman’s MEV-2 satellite servicer is performing close proximity operations with Intelsat’s in-orbit 10-02 spacecraft ahead of a docking attempt, SpaceNews has learned.
Both spacecraft remain healthy after being in close quarters to calibrate and test systems before MEV-2 backed off, according to a Northrop Grumman official.
The company intends to release an update once it completes the docking.
It is understood the satellite servicer’s predecessor MEV-1 made several close proximity operations maneuvers and approaches before successfully attaching to Intelsat-901 last year, enabling the 19-year-old satellite to resume services from April 2.
MEV-2 has a similar design to MEV-1, but the two missions have distinct differences. While Intelsat-901 was no longer functioning as it languished in a graveyard orbit, Intelsat-10-02 has been active in geosynchronous orbit since 2004 and is carrying communications traffic.
The two companies are working closely together to time approaches and the eventual docking for when it is most conducive to Intelsat’s business needs.
MEV-2 is also not moving its satellite to a different orbit like MEV-1 did; instead it will act as a new engine and fuel tank to extend the spacecraft’s life.
Demand for GEO life extension missions will grow to 75 satellites by 2030, according to a recent Northern Sky Research (NSR) forecast, representing a $3.2 billion cumulative market opportunity.
NSR analyst Hussain Bokhari expects more than 230 in-orbit satellites will be serviced in some way during the next 10 years, with governments and militaries also driving demand in GEO and non-GEO. These missions include relocation, salvage and repair services.
This growing market potential continues to attract new entrants, including Ukrainian startup Kurs Orbital with its plans to revive Soviet-era docking technology.
However, Bokhari warned that the slow pace of technology development and confidence in in-orbit servicing capabilities, as well as a lack of clear technical and safe operating standards, threaten the market’s growth.

China, Russia enter MoU on international lunar research station
by Andrew Jones — March 9, 2021

HELSINKI — The heads of the Chinese and Russian space agencies signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday on cooperative construction of an international lunar research station.

Zhang Kejian, head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), and Dmitry Rogozin, General Director of Roscosmos, signed the document during a virtual meeting March 9.

The International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) is described as a comprehensive scientific experiment base built on the lunar surface or on the lunar orbit that can carry out multi-disciplinary and multi-objective scientific research activities including exploration and utilization, lunar-based observation, basic scientific experiment and technical verification, and long-term autonomous operation.

Statements from Roscosmos and CNSA underline that the project will be “open to all interested countries and international partners.”

Though not explicitly stated it is understood that the ILRS would be constructed at the lunar south pole.

The releases also state that both sides will use their accumulated experience in space science, research and development and use of space equipment and space technology to jointly develop a road map for the construction of an international lunar scientific research station.

Roscosmos notes the prospect of a human presence on the moon following the robotic phase of the project.

The signing of the agreement had been expected, as reported by SpaceNews in February.

“This MoU fits the larger trend, which is Russia moving into a closer orbit with China,” Bleddyn Bowen, a lecturer in international relations at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, told SpaceNews in February.

China and Russia have previously signed agreements for cooperation on the Chang’e-7 and Luna 27 missions and a joint data center for lunar and deep space exploration.

The European Space Agency has also been involved in discussions, while recently having signed an MoU with NASA on the Gateway.

“At ESA we are following the Chinese lunar exploration plans very closely in order to see where our respective programmatic interest could meet, primarily the CE-6, -7 and -8 missions but also the ILRS initiative”, Karl Bergquist, ESA’s international relations administrator, told SpaceNews last year.

Chinese, Russia moon plans
The ILRS concept is an evolutionary, expanded stage of Chinese lunar exploration following the approval of a first set of missions in the early 2000s. China has launched two lunar orbiters, a pair of lander and rover missions and, in late 2020, the complex Chang’e-5 lunar sample return mission.

Chang’e-6, a polar sample return mission, and the multi-spacecraft Chang’e-7 are scheduled for around 2023-2024. The later Chang’e-8 mission will be designed for in-situ resource utilization and 3D-printing technology tests, as well as life science related to potential long-term stays on the moon. These missions will form the robotic basis of the ILRS before expansion into a more long term base.

Russia is preparing to launch its Luna 25, Luna 26 and Luna 27 lunar lander missions across the 2020s.

The early stage ILRS would appear to consist of a number of discrete spacecraft, in contrast to a more complex, integrated program such as the International Space Station.

China is also developing capabilities for deep space human spaceflight. In May 2020 China tested a new generation spacecraft and is also developing two separate super-heavy-lift launchers for space infrastructure and crewed missions.

A Chinese space station, with construction to begin as soon as April, is planned to bring China expertise and experience in human spaceflight operations ahead of potential crewed lunar missions.


Josef Aschbacher is new ESA Director General (

Josef Aschbacher is new ESA Director General
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Mar 02, 2021

Josef Aschbacher
ESA has a new Director General: Dr Josef Aschbacher, who has taken up duty at ESA Headquarters in Paris, France.

The ESA Council appointed Dr Aschbacher in December 2020 as the next Director General of ESA, for a period of four years. He succeeds Prof. Jan Worner, whose term of office ended in February 2021.

Dr Aschbacher was previously ESA Director of Earth Observation Programmes and Head of ESRIN, ESA's centre for Earth Observation near Rome.

Born in Austria, Josef Aschbacher studied at the University of Innsbruck, graduating with a Master's and a Doctoral degree in natural sciences. He became a research scientist at the university's Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics from 1985 to 1989.

He began his career in ESA in 1990 as a Young Graduate at ESRIN. From 1991 to 1993 he was seconded as ESA Representative to Southeast Asia to the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, Thailand, where he initiated major cooperation programmes between the EC, ESA and Southeast Asia.

From 1994 to 2001 he worked at the European Commission Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy, where he was the Scientific Assistant to the Director of the Space Applications Institute, being responsible for scientific strategy and resource allocation. He returned to ESA headquarters, in Paris, in 2001 as Programme Coordinator, where he was primarily responsible for advancing Copernicus within ESA.

In 2006 he became Head of the Copernicus Space Office, located at ESRIN near Rome, Italy, where he led all activities for Copernicus within the agency and with external partners, in particular the European Commission.

In 2014, he was promoted to Head of Programme Planning and Coordination at ESRIN, where he was responsible for planning ESA's Earth Observation programmes and for formulating and implementing programmatic and strategic decisions across the Directorate.

In 2016, Josef Aschbacher was appointed as Director of Earth Observation Programmes, ESA's largest Directorate, and as Head of ESRIN, ESA's centre for Earth observation. Under his leadership, Europe developed the world's leading Earth observation programme, which includes all Sentinel missions as part of the EU-led Copernicus programme, all meteorological missions for Eumetsat and the Earth Explorer, Scout and phi-sat missions developed for ESA Member States.

In 2020, a total of 40 satellites were under development and ESA disseminated the world's largest Earth observation data volumes.

Taking out the trash: One man’s mission to tidy up the space environment

by Leonard David — December 1, 2020

Earth is encircled by derelict spacecraft, the remains of exploded rocket stages, and myriad bits of orbiting debris — from tiny chips of paint to the lingering leftovers of past but purposeful anti-satellite tests. Collectively, such high-speed clutter and other litter-causing activities heighten the risk of damaging or short-circuiting the performance of functional spacecraft.

The debris threat is a recognized reality. Outer space has already been termed a “tragedy of the commons” in the making. What avenues need to be taken to curb creation of orbiting rubble, help pinpoint the prospect of space collisions, and — above all — become better stewards of sustaining a quality space environment?

SpaceNews contributor Leonard David discussed these issues with Moriba Jah, associate professor at The University of Texas at Austin, a specialist on space situational awareness, space traffic monitoring, and the hazard of orbital debris.

There was significant media attention paid last month to a potential orbital collision between an old Soviet satellite and a Chinese upper stage rocket body, flagged by LeoLabs, a tracking company. It didn’t happen, but any lessons learned from that incident?

Moriba Jah, associate professor at The University of Texas at Austin. Credit: Courtesy Moriba Jah
Evidence is best when it can be independently corroborated. To me, the LeoLabs issue could have happened with any other entity when opinion is just based on that entity’s own data. This is the importance of crowdsourcing. There’s need for a consensus of opinions. That’s the direction we need to go in. It’s bad news if we desensitize people as it could become a Chicken Little kind of thing. Soon enough people don’t pay attention and say, “Oh, yeah. It’s another nothing burger.” So my sense of urgency is let’s try to independently corroborate an event and then figure out how to move forward from that. I think just getting some answer and then blurting it out will ultimately hurt the community.

You have raised concern that the U.S. military cannot accurately track all satellites and that their current data could be “biased.” Why so?
There are a number of things that actually influence the motion of objects in space. Then there’s a group of things that influence our perception of the motion of things in space. Things like gravity, solar flux, particulates like micrometeoroids, charged particles. Those are external things to anthropogenic space objects. Then you have control of objects, like thrusting, etc. These are the things that actually influence the motion of space objects. But by and large we don’t know all those things perfectly. Our assumptions on the physics are not perfect. The observations we have are inferring behavior. The actual data is corrupted by noise and biases. This is all very nuanced. You need to apply different methods to the same data to see what the statistical consistency is. That way you gain confidence and confidence comes from independent trials. The Defense Department (DoD) does not have all the methods I have described. They have assumptions on the physics. The fact that they model everything like a sphere already says that it can’t be the right answer. The objects in their catalog are modeled like a cannonball and very few of those objects actually look like that. So that’s a bias. It’s a systematic error in the opinion.

There is movement on giving the U.S. Commerce Department a new role in space situational awareness (SSA). What’s your view regarding this prospect?
I started off my career at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It’s the best matrix organization that I ever worked for. What I’ve told parts of the government is that it’s OK if Commerce is the project manager for civil SSA and space traffic management, but this needs to be like a matrix organization. It needs to have line manager elements that clearly Commerce has no clue about because it’s just not their thing. There needs to be an interagency line, because clearly the DoD has been doing this for a really long time and Commerce hasn’t. There needs to be some sort of commercial entity. There needs to be academic researchers.

These should be the line elements and then Commerce should be resourced and given the responsibility. What Commerce needs is authority, responsibility, and the ability to affect change … to broker deals with each of the line elements so it can operate this matrix capability for the United States. That’s the way I think this needs to work.

You think that’s the way it is going to play out?
Of course not.

In testimony before Congress, you’ve advocated for creation of a nonprofit civil space traffic management public-private partnership. Why and how does that work?
There are different people that have a stake in what’s going on in space … all of humanity. There can’t be a single entity that shoulders the burden of the whole thing. There’s not a single government on the planet that can actually provide the continuing supervision in the absence of help from the people that they are authorizing. Government by itself can’t actually meet the needs of the community in space to achieve safety, security and sustainability without the cooperation of the very same entities they are authorizing to operate in space.

I have been developing AstriaGraph, a crowdsourcing, participatory sensing network. It prevents any single source of information from being able to uniquely bias or prejudice your opinion about what happens in space. That’s what we want to get to. We use a variety of data sources. There’s strength in numbers.

Over the years, various concepts for space debris removal have been proposed, be they harpoons, even fishnet-like devices to snag clutter. How practical are these ideas?
I like making an analogy to the ocean. A lot of the items in the oceans can be cleaned up, but things like microplastics are going to be there forever. I think people need to accept that we need to learn how to live within our own filth. A pristine space environment through cleaning will never happen. We need to accept that as reality.

Let me put it in current pandemic terms. How do we flatten the curve on the growth and spread of space debris? The biggest issue is lack of compliance, the equivalent of people not wearing masks and not social distancing. How do we incentivize people to actually comply with guidelines? There are a few things that we can remove out of the way because they are ticking time bombs, super-spreader events such as rocket bodies [that can potentially explode].

What other steps need to be taken?
Before anything else, we need to come up with a global definition of what “carrying capacity” in orbit means. Just like there’s carrying capacity for ecosystems, for highways, what is the equivalent carrying capacity for any given orbit regime? We should also come up with a definition for something like a “space traffic footprint” which is loosely the burden that anything has on sustainability, the safety of other things in space. No single country can just use up the carrying capacity of the orbit because it doesn’t belong to any country. It’s a shared resource. We have to come up with an orbital resource management program, to manage and allocate capacity. Those are the sorts of conversations that can underwrite sensible legislation. But without the sustainability metric, we just don’t get there.

If every country is just free to do whatever it wants in space, and we don’t have modes of behavior to help manage the common resource, then yes, eventually, we’re going to have a tragedy of the commons. That’s just going to happen.

There’s an evolving capability for satellite servicing. How important is that ability?
Because I’m coming to this in part as a space environmentalist, let’s minimize or eliminate single-use satellites. We should have some sort of capability to reuse and recycle objects in space. On-orbit servicing, reuse, recycling services to me is critical in the way that humanity needs to evolve in its use of outer space. But there’s a caveat. We need to also minimize misinterpretation. If somebody comes within close proximity of somebody else, they may feel it’s a threat and claim self-defense. So these are real human behaviors that we’ve displayed on Earth that we need to apply to space, so that we can forecast this a bit and try to prevent these things from happening.

You call yourself a space environmentalist, but why and how do you define that label?
I am a self-titled space environmentalist. I am not saying that tomorrow something cataclysmic is going to happen. But on our current path, space will become unusable if we do nothing different. Our behavior has not been so good for oceans, the atmosphere and climate. Space is suffering that. We are still at a point where we can do something about it. Environmental protection needs to be extended to near-Earth space for sure. That needs to be underscored. I just don’t want to be an alarmist. I just want to be a realist.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 16, 2020 issue of SpaceNews magazine.

Japan launches JDRS-1 optical data relay satellite for military, civilian use

by Andrew Jones — November 29, 2020

HELSINKI — Japan has a new data relay satellite headed for geostationary orbit following successful launch of JDRS-1 on a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H-IIA rocket Sunday.

The H-IIA rocket No. 43 lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan at 2:25 a.m. Eastern Nov. 29.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries confirmed separation of JDRS-1 and launch success two and a half hours later.

The JDRS-1 will relay optical and radar data from Japan’s Information Gathering Satellites (IGS) and other data from science satellites to Earth. Few details of the satellite have been revealed due to the largely military nature of its mission.

The new satellite carries Laser Utilizing Communication System (LUCAS) developed by JAXA. LUCAS uses infrared light to facilitate inter-satellite links at rates of up to 1.8 gigabits per second.

The JDRS satellite was jointly developed by JAXA and the Government of Japan. The Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center owns and operates the satellite, with JAXA responsible for the optical data relay function.

The satellite will operate in a geostationary orbit at 35,400 kilometers above the Earth, relaying data between Japanese satellites passing below and ground stations. This allows speedier passing of data, facilitating its transfer when a satellite would otherwise not have a clear view of the ground station.

Japan’s follow-on Advanced Land Observation Satellites for Earth science and observation, ALOS-3 and ALOS-4, will be capable of utilizing the full relay capabilities of JDRS-1. ALOS-3 could launch as soon as 2021.

The JDRS-1 replaces the “Kodama” Data Relay Test Satellite (DRTS) launched in 2002 and operational through August 2017. The LUCAS payload allows data transfer at around seven times faster than the S-band and Ka-band DRTS .

Illustration of the LUCAS optical data relay payload on the JDRS-1 satellite.
Illustration of the LUCAS optical data relay payload on the JDRS-1 satellite. Credit: JAXA
Sunday’s JDRS-1 launch was the 43rd of the four variants of the H-IIA rocket, which boasts a 100 percent success rate.

The H-IIA and H-IIB are to be retired by the end of 2023 and replaced by the new H3 rocket. The latter was expected to have an inaugural launch by the end of 2020, but this has now slipped to Japanese Financial Year 2021, beginning April 2021, following following discovery of issues with components of the new LE-9 rocket engine.

Satellite Industry Association releases space traffic management recommendations and white paper
 by Staff Writers
 Washington DC (SPX) Oct 05, 2020

The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) has announced the release of a number of recommendations addressing the issue of space traffic management, with the goal of supporting a long-term sustainable and safe space environment for commercial satellites and spacecraft. The recommendations were included in a SIA White Paper titled "The Future of Space and Space Traffic Coordination and Management (STCM)".

The White Paper shares SIA and its members' views and recommendations regarding the creation of a modern STCM regime, capable of supporting long term space sustainability and continued innovation and U.S. space leadership.

"Thanks to technological leaps in innovation and increased accessibility to space, the commercial satellite industry is currently undergoing tremendous growth which is anticipated to increasingly expand in the coming decade." said Tom Stroup, president of SIA.

The Association and its members are extremely focused on the critical importance of addressing the issue of space traffic management and sustainability now - while developing and maintaining a safe and long-term sustainable on-orbit environment for both domestic and international commercial satellites and spacecraft."

In the White Paper, SIA projects the profile of active satellites operating in low earth orbit will change substantially in the upcoming 5-10 years with tens of thousands of satellites being proposed.

Regardless of how many of the proposed large constellations are eventually flown, it is clear that that the current framework of space regulations and policies requires review and, in some cases, revision to prepare for the imminent surge in space usage. With this in mind, the SIA White Paper shares the following four recommendations:

Action and funding is needed now. The commercial satellite sector is innovating quickly and driving U.S. leadership in space. SIA urges the U.S. government to act now and to implement a more modern STCM environment to support this innovation, including leveraging both commercial and government capabilities to yield a U.S.-developed cutting edge space sustainability model. This activity requires adequate funding to enable all the related activities foreseen in Space Directive 3.

The Framework should be established, but the specific technologies to meet requirements should not be dictated. Space companies are world-renowned for their ingenuity. Allowing innovative ways to meet the specified requirements of a modern space safety framework will encourage development and ensure the most cost-efficient and effective technologies are utilized.

Governments should encourage best practices. The commercial space industry has a long track record of responsible operations in space and counts on a safe environment to undertake ongoing and future space business.

Solidifying the participation and support of the commercial industry to ensure wide-spread adoption of space safety practices is critical and will reduce the need for unnecessary and often burdensome regulations and is action that can be taken now.

Any effective solution must be whole of space and endeavor to meet global needs. A successful, modern and sustainable space traffic management system will include all of the types of space activities (listed in this White Paper), U.S.

and international alike. This will require the relationships and leadership of the U.S. government, commercial stakeholders and like-minded space-faring counterparts to meet the important goals of space sustainability. 

Britain Is Getting Ready for Its Space Race

Spurred by Brexit, London is backing companies that will build satellites and haul them into orbit.

By Stanley Reed
Oct. 6, 2020Updated 6:52 a.m. ET

Cornwall, in England’s far southwest, is known for antique fishing villages and snug, cliff-lined beaches. Soon it may be the scene of something very different: a small but growing space industry.

One day in a year or two, a modified Boeing 747 is expected to lift off from the long runway at the region’s airport, head out over the Atlantic Ocean and soar into the stratosphere. There, a rocket will drop from below a wing, fire its engines and ferry a load of small satellites into orbit, while the plane returns to the airport.

After six years of planning and fund-raising, construction of a bare-bones spaceport, budgeted at about 22 million pounds ($28 million), is beginning this month at the airport in Newquay.

The anchor tenant is expected to be Virgin Orbit, a part of Richard Branson’s Virgin universe. Its selling point: Putting satellites into orbit via aircraft can be done faster and with less infrastructure than earthbound rockets.  It plans to bring its 747 (called the Cosmic Girl) and other gear being tested in the Mojave Desert to Britain with the help of £7.35 million from the U.K. Space Agency.

“At the beginning, people laughed at us,” said Melissa Thorpe, head of engagement for Spaceport Cornwall, the developer. “It took a lot of work to convince a lot of people.”

Among the better arguments: The spaceport, which is owned by the local government, could eventually provide 150 good jobs in what, despite its charm, is a region dependent on low-paid, seasonal work from tourism.

Britain is doubling down on the always risky space business after, some would say, years of neglect. Besides Cornwall, the government is putting money behind several other potential launch sites, including one on the remote north coast of Scotland, which is being tailored for an environmentally friendly rocket to be manufactured nearby.

This is all new for a country that does not have a deep history of rocketry or launching satellites into space. The case for spaceports in Britain is far from proven. In fact, some analysts say there are already too many such facilities, including in the United States.

The first — and, to date, only — British-made satellite-bearing rocket was launched from Woomera in Australia in 1971. That program, called Black Arrow, was scrapped after four launches for not being cost effective.

“You do have to pinch yourself that the U.K is within a few years of launching satellites,” said Doug Millard, space curator at the Science Museum in London. “That is something that never would have been considered not so long ago.”

“It took a lot of work to convince a lot of people,” said Melissa Thorpe of Spaceport Cornwall. Credit...Francesca Jones for The New York Times

A big reason for the turnaround is Brexit. The decision to pull away from the European Union has heightened awareness that Britain, which has largely relied on European and American space programs for services like satellite navigation, would be at risk without its own space infrastructure. This year the space agency’s budget was bumped up 10 percent to £556 million (still a small fraction of NASA’s $22 billion).

Brexit has provided “a real stimulus to get us to think about what we actually need as a country in space,” said Graham Turnock, chief executive of the U.K. Space Agency, in an interview.

But the decision to look skyward also coincides with the growing commercial use of space around the world, promoted by deep-pocketed investors like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Mr. Branson, but also pushed along by a range of less prominent entrepreneurs and businesses.

Key has been the emergence of much smaller and cheaper satellites, some the size of a shoe box and costing a relatively small $1 million or less. Some are used for observation, such as measuring how much oil is stored in a tank farm, valuable data for energy investors. Others are planned to provide internet connectivity on earth and a key link in the burgeoning internet of things, essential for self-driving cars and smart kitchens.

“We are right at the beginning of this journey,” said Mark Boggett, chief executive of London-based Seraphim Capital, which is managing a $90 million space fund.

The government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson put its own chips on such efforts by agreeing in July to spend £500 million to acquire 45 percent of OneWeb, a satellite operator.

OneWeb filed for bankruptcy this year, but is involved in the hottest area of the satellite industry: the creation of so-called constellations, blizzards of coordinated satellites in low orbit, designed to provide blanket coverage for purposes like extending the internet to remote regions.

OneWeb is building its satellites at a factory co-owned by Airbus in Florida. The hope in the British government and space community is that OneWeb will build a future generation of satellites in Britain.

Over all, the government is trying to support activity in what is known as “new space,” a more agile and commercial approach to an industry traditionally dominated by government and military programs.

“OneWeb, and what we are doing on launch, is all about taking a really big role in that new economy,” Mr. Turnock said.

While Britain has participated in prestigious space activities like making a Mars rover for an upcoming European-Russian mission, it has catching up to do. Still, space experts say the direction the industry is moving could play to its advantage.

The launch vehicles that Britain is trying to nurture would be suited for smaller satellites that operate in low-Earth orbit, around 800 miles up, compared with about 22,000 miles for telecommunications giants that sometimes cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Smaller satellites also have much shorter life spans than the larger ones, implying the need for more of them, and more launches. Virgin Orbit says it plans to charge $12 million to take a nearly 700-pound payload of satellites into space.

Having nearby launch sites will fill a need for companies like In-Space Missions, a space service firm in Hampshire, outside London. Doug Liddle, the chief executive, said the company went all the way to New Zealand to launch a satellite this year, only to lose it when the rocket failed.

The new space economy is also more affordable for medium-size countries like Britain. “The small-satellite approach now means we are not going to spend our entire national budget on our space program,” said Martin Sweeting, a founder and executive chairman of a British university spinoff called Surrey Satellite Technology, a pioneer in small satellites.

Space is also becoming far more accessible to start-ups like Open Cosmos, which offers to build satellites and arrange their launch and early operation at a cost of $10 million or less. The company is one of many technology businesses clustered in Harwell, a community near the University of Oxford.

A satellite antenna under construction in a clean room at Oxford Space Systems, one of several space-oriented businesses in Harwell, England.Credit...Francesca Jones for The New York Times

Among the neighbors are clients like Lacuna Space, which plans to deploy satellites for a range of uses like tracking cattle on vast Latin American ranches, and potential suppliers like Oxford Space Systems, which builds satellite-mounted antennas that unfurl once in orbit to send data to ground receivers.

“It is a small ecosystem; everybody knows each other,” said Rafel Jordá Siquier, the 31-year-old founder of Open Cosmos.

But not all the companies are start-ups. Airbus, the giant French maker of commercial aircraft, is also a major manufacturer of satellites and employs 3,500 people doing space work in Britain.

The company had been nervous about Brexit’s implications for those operations, but the government’s move into OneWeb offered some reassurance.

“The investment in OneWeb and focus of the U.K. on space is actually making Airbus go, ‘Look, the U.K. is a really good place to invest,’” said Richard Franklin, head of space and defense for Britain at Airbus.

That said, Britain’s ambitions face large unknowns and risks.

The launch technologies it is counting on are unproven. Virgin Orbit’s first test this year in the United States sputtered when the main rocket engine shut down. And the coronavirus pandemic has put huge financial strain on Mr. Branson’s empire, including the flagship, Virgin Atlantic. To help bolster the finances of the airline and other companies, the entrepreneur sold around $500 million of shares in Virgin Galactic, a space tourism business.

But Will Pomerantz, Virgin Orbit’s vice president for special projects, said the 747 would come to Cornwall “when they are ready and they need us.”

The satellite market is also both competitive and turbulent. Tesla’s founder, Elon Musk, whose SpaceX has carried U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station and returned them safely to Earth, is building his own mega constellation satellite system, Starlink. Other technology companies are likely to follow, while many countries can now build satellites.

“One of the beautiful things about small sats is that anyone can make one,” said Alexandre Najjar, senior consultant at Euroconsult, a market research firm.

Still, Britain’s space entrepreneurs say having a launchpad near home might give them an edge.

”If we can get in a van and drive our spacecraft up to Scotland or Cornwall, the whole process becomes much more straightforward,” said Mr. Liddle, the satellite builder.
China is preparing for the upcoming high-density space missions to construct China's space station, and the Long March-5B carrier rocket, set to launch capsules for the space station, is expected to make its maiden flight in 2020.

Zhou Jianping, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, has been appointed the chief designer of China's manned space program, and Gu Yidong, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has been appointed the chief space scientist of the program, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

China's first astronaut Yang Liwei and seven other experts in the fields such as spacecraft, carrier rocket, space technology application, monitoring and communication systems have been appointed deputy chief designers of the program.

China aims to complete the construction of the space station around 2022. Weighing 66 tons, the Tiangong space station will be T-shaped with the Tianhe core module at the center and the Wentian and Mengtian experiment capsules on each side.

The station, which will orbit 340 to 450 km. above the Earth's surface, could be enlarged to 180 tons if required and accommodate three to six astronauts. It is designed to last at least 10 years and could be prolonged through in-orbit maintenance, according to Zhou Jianping.

Sixteen experiment racks will be installed on the space station to support hundreds of space research projects.

China is also selecting new astronauts for space station missions. After the construction of the station is completed, China welcomes overseas astronauts to work together with domestic astronauts aboard China's space station. International spacecraft can also be docked with China's space station if they use a Chinese docking mechanism, Zhou said.

ISECG Publishes Update to the Global Exploration Roadmap

Agencies participating in the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) continue to advance a long-range international exploration strategy to expand human presence into the Solar System, which begins with the International Space Station, proceeds to the Moon, and leads to human missions to explore Mars.

This third edition of the Global Exploration Roadmap, first released in September 2011 and updated in August 2013, includes updated agency plans and programmes and aims to facilitate stakeholder engagement within countries and across space agencies to realise human and robotic exploration of destinations where humans may one day live and work.

Download the 3rd edition of the Global Eploration Roadmap.

An £8.4 million (9.5 million euros) investment in Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall, South West England, will help create the world’s first commercial deep-space communications station, capable of tracking future missions to the Moon and Mars.

AVIATION WEEK AEROSPACE DAILY & DEFENSE REPORT Daily business intelligence for the global aerospace and defense industry

February 24, 2017

Vol.  259 Issue 37

NASA Anticipates 2021 Mars Traffic Jam

Mars could get pretty congested with spacecraft in early 2021 thanks to an emerging global lineup of missions eager to take advantage of a mid-2020 launch opportunity that leverages a favorable alignment between Earth and the Red Planet every 26 months.

Mars could have what one expert termed an "armada" of rovers, stationary landers and orbiters converging on the planet at much the same time.

Count NASA's Mars 2020 rover, the joint European/Russian ExoMars 2020 rover and lander; SpaceX's first Red Dragon lander; a Chinese rover and orbiter and the United Arab Emirates' first bid at Mars orbit insertion with its Hope spacecraft as those potentially converging on the Martian realm to create a February 2021 traffic jam.

NASA, the space agency best equipped to serve as "air traffic control" for the convergence, is already assessing what all the activity could mean for its already much-in-demand Deep Space Network (DSN)--a lineup of large dish antennas strategically placed in Spain, Australia and California--and a largely U.S. fleet of spacecraft already orbiting Mars. Together, they serve as Earth-based data collectors and Mars orbiting communications relays for U.S. and international partner spacecraft operating in the Martian realm. The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory-managed DSN, whose roots go back more than a half century, operates 24/7. DSN serves as the communications home base for 40 to 50 science missions at any one time operating between low Earth orbit and the edge of interstellar space.

"The Deep Space Network will be exceptionally challenged. There is no question about that," James Watzin, NASA's Mars Exploration Program director, told those gathered Feb. 22 in Monrovia, California, and by internet connection for the opening session of a two-day meeting of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (Mepag). The group is a collection of experts chartered by NASA to assist the agency with planning the scientific exploration of the Red Planet.

Missions far from Mars may have to sacrifice contact time with Earth through the DSN to accommodate the planetary traffic jam.

"That is part of a study that we are doing right now to look at how we could manage that. Almost everybody that goes to Mars depends on the DSN for delta velocity and position tracking. Everyone will want to converge their solution to approach at the same point in time. So there will be an exceptionally high demand to provide that," Watzin predicts.

Now cold and desert-like, the Red Planet has become an increasingly compelling, if expensive, destination, because of growing evidence it once hosted a warmer, wetter environment perhaps favorable for microbial activity. Vestiges of past astrobiology might even currently thrive on Mars, some planetary scientists believe.

SpaceX, the Hawthorne, California-based commercial space company, and MarsOne, a Dutch nonprofit, have also stirred interest worldwide in establishing human colonies on Mars.

NASA's Mars 2020 rover, developed with technologies pioneered by the successful Mars Curiosity rover, is to lift off during the favorable July/August 2020 launch window when the Earth and Mars are aligned to reach the Red Planet in February 2021. During its primary mission, Mars 2020 will gather and cache small samples of soil and rock that can be returned to Earth at some point in the future for analysis by scientists in labs equipped with the latest technology. The Mars 2020 rover will also demonstrate a technology for extracting oxygen from the thin carbon dioxide Martian atmosphere. Oxygen could provide a life support and propellant resource for future human explorers.

The European Space Agency's EXOMars rover will search for signs of life as it rolls across the Martian terrain with a drill and other state-of-the-art instrumentation, including the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA). NASA is partnering with ESA in the MOMA development, an incentive for it to help direct traffic.

"We will probably need an extraordinarily large share of DSN support for those activities, and it will require several years of planning," Watzin told the Mepag gathering. "So we are preparing an efficient plan for handling it. That is what we are starting to build on right now. I think it's all doable, but it's certainly going to be very challenging."

Mars, with eight currently functioning international spacecraft either orbiting or roving its terrain, is already an air traffic control challenge, according to Fuk Li, director of JPL's Mars exploration directorate. Part of the challenge is sharing orbital space with one of the planet's two small moons, Phobos. "We are worried about our orbiters colliding with one another. We worry that some of them may collide with Phobos," explained Li, who said JPL has responded by serially modeling the orbital trajectories of the Mars orbiters. "If we get close together, or we project that they will get close together, we will alert all the missions and watch (the spacecraft) to see how they progress. Typically, we don't have to do anything over time. The concern resolves itself."

But just before the long U.S. President's Day weekend, the forecasting raised concerns over conjunctions between NASA's Maven and Mars Odyssey orbiters, and Maven and Phobos.

"We are watching them," Li said. "I believe that as time goes on, chances are they will get themselves resolved. If not, one of the missions, most likely Maven, will have to do some sort of orbit adjustment. So far, we have not had to do it. We are watching to make sure they don't get too close to one another."

ESA's Trace Gas Orbiter, which maneuvered into an initial orbit at Mars in October, is to tighten the circle with a period of aerobraking set to begin in mid-March. It will be monitored by JPL, Li said.

--Mark Carreau,
Dear IOAG Heads of Delegation,

The next face to face IOAG-20 meeting will be held in Montreal, Canada during the week of Sept 26-30, 2016.

Please be sure to register your participation so the CSA can prepare the logistics appropriately.
Dear IOAG delegates,

The next IOAG-19d will be held via telecon on 18 April 2016.

Please make sure to register your participation. The agenda and other relevant documents will be shared with you via the IOAG website (login required), as well as via email.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the IOAG Secretariat.
Dear IOAG Heads of Delegation,

As a friendly reminder, the next IOAG meeting will be held on 4 February 2016 via telecon/webex.

Please be sure to register your participation on the IOAG website.
Dear IOAG Heads of Delegation,

As a friendly reminder, the final IOAG meeting of the year via telecon/webex will be held a month from now --  on 10th of December 2015. Please be sure to register your participation on the IOAG website.

Dear IOAG delegates,

Please make sure to register your meeting participation on the internal website.

The IOAG-19a agenda will be forthcoming and shared via email and under documents/IOAG internal calendar.

KARI will be hosting the IOAG-19 next week in Daejeon, South Korea.

IOAG members must log in to view latest meeting documents and agenda.

Approved documents will be shared under the public page.
Dear IOAG delegates,  

The next IOAG meeting (IOAG-18c) will be held via webex/telecon on Tuesday 9 December 2014 at 12:00UTC. An outlook invitation was sent to the IOAG heads of delegation, and will include the agenda and other necessary documents.

Please be sure to register your participation under the IOAG website> Meetings> IOAG-18c> Registration

Documentation is uploaded under the IOAG website (login required) Meeting Documents > IOAG-18c.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the IOAG Secretariat.
Dear IOAG delegates,

The next IOAG meeting (IOAG-18b) will be held via webex/telecon on Tuesday 16 Sept 2014 at 12:00UTC. An outlook invitation was sent to the IOAG heads of delegation, and will include the agenda and other necessary documents. Please be sure to register your participation under the IOAG website> Meetings> IOAG-18b> Registration

Documentation is uploaded under the IOAG website (login required) Meeting Documents > IOAG-18b.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the IOAG Secretariat.
There is a new live visualization of our Deep Space Network (DSN) and which  spacecraft the various antennae are talking to.

Each antenna is given a number identifier, there is one huge 70-meter station at each Complex and the rest are 34-meter dishes. All the robotic missions going to various points in our Solar System wouldn’t be possible if not for the DSN. And now you can watch that communication live! 

The DSN page is updated every 5 seconds with status on the spacecraft-antenna links. Click a dish to learn more about the live connection between the spacecraft and the ground.  There can be an uplink and/or downlink signal as shown.  Each carrier signal is a pure radio 'tone' is used to communicate data between the ground and the spacecraft and to help navigate the spacecraft. Downlink data includes scientific measurements, images, or engineering information sent from the spacecraft to the ground. The Uplink data includes commands being sent 'up' to a spacecraft. Check it out!
Dear IOAG delegates,

The next IOAG meeting will be held as a 'mini-meeting' in Pasadena, California at the Pasadena Convention Center from 4-7PM PST. A telecon number will be available for those who are unable to join in person.

Please register your participation on the IOAG webpage!  
Dear IOAG Delegates,
The next IOAG-18 meeting will be hosted by ASI in Rome, Italy from 10-13 February, 2014. Afterwards a MOSSG meeting will be held for any IOAG delegates interested in joining for those discussions. A no host dinner will occur on Tuesday, 11 February, at a downtown Rome restaurant, Antica Roma.

Details with the agenda are uploaded under the IOAG-18 meeting documents, as well as on the IOAG calendar and outlook invites.  Please let us know whether you would be able to join in person or via telecon on the IOAG Registration page, as we also need to process your information for security purposes.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the IOAG Secretariat.
Disruption Tolerant Networking Experiments with Optical Communications
Dec. 20, 2013

The Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD) is one of the instruments on the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), which was launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on September 6. On October 18, LLCD made history by transmitting a pulsed laser beam from the Moon to the White Sands Complex in New Mexico at 622 megabits per second (Mbps) – more than six times faster than traditional radio signals.

In the days since, LLCD has performed a number of different experiments including:  sending signals to the European Space Agency (ESA) station in the Tenerife, Canary Islands, sending LADEE’s entire spacecraft and science data to the ground, and testing how the laser beam will react during the Moon’s different phases. One of the lesser known experiments happened in mid-November where Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) was incorporated in the experiments. DTN is a step towards an interplanetary or space internet that seeks to improve communications by storing data when a connection is interrupted and forward it to its destination through the use of relay stations or nodes.

The LLCD/ DTN experiment utilized a virtual lunar relay scenario, complete with three lunar surface users, a lunar relay, an Earth ground station, and user control centers.  Each user node transferred data utilizing a method of bundling similar bulk data called the DTN Bundle Protocol. The real optical links between LLCD and the Lunar Laser Ground Terminal (LLGT) in White Sands, NM carried the lunar relay trunkline traffic of DTN bundles. This was the first ever demonstration of DTN bundle protocol and point to point deep space transmission known as the Licklider Transmission Protocol (LTP) over spacecraft optical links. These DTN protocols provided reliable data transfer over the optical links, even when cloud outages occurred. Optical links do not favor well in cloudy weather, as the mist interrupts the narrow beam.

The demonstrations also included the transfer of files using the international standard of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) File Delivery Protocol (CFDP) over the DTN protocols. Various image files were used for the test, including photos from the early meeting days of DTN and several photos of one of DTN’s biggest proponents, Adrian Hooke, who passed away in January 2013.

For more information about the demonstration, please contact:
David Israel
Goddard Space Flight Center

The LLCD/Adrian Hooke article is live on SCaN’s public website:
On 14 December, ESA's New Norcia tracking station will help pinpoint China's Moon lander.

ESA's New Norcia station, DSA-1 (Deep Space Antenna-1), hosts a 35 m-diameter parabolic antenna and is located 140 km north of Perth, Western Australia, close to the town of New Norcia. DSA-1 communicates with deep-space missions, typically at ranges in excess of 2 million km. It is also capable of supporting the ultra-precise 'delta-DOR' navigation technique.

On 14 December 2013, New Norcia station will support the powered descent of China's Chang'e-3 Moon mission; the station will measure the Doppler shift of signals from the spacecraft. Recording this will help Chinese engineers to reconstruct the trajectory for future reference.
29 November 2013

Shortly after China’s Chang’e-3 spacecraft departs Earth to land on the Moon, ESA’s network of tracking stations will swing into action, providing crucial support for the vessel’s five-day lunar cruise.

China’s Chang’e-3, named after the mythological goddess of the Moon, is scheduled for lift off on 1 December from the Xichang launch base in China’s Sichuan province on a journey to deposit a lander and a six-wheeled rover on the lunar surface.

The landing, in the Sea of Rainbows on 14 December, will be the first since Russia’s Luna-24 in 1976.

Immediately after liftoff, ESA’s station in Kourou, French Guiana, will start receiving signals from the mission and uploading commands on behalf of the Chinese control centre.

The tracking will run daily throughout the voyage to the Moon. Then, during descent and after landing, ESA’s deep-space stations will pinpoint the craft’s path and touchdown.
Shortly after China’s Chang’e-3 spacecraft departs Earth to land on the Moon, ESA’s network of tracking stations will swing into action, providing crucial support for the vessel’s five-day lunar cruise.
Chinese Moon rover

“We are proud that the expertise of our ground station and flight dynamics teams and the sophisticated technologies of our worldwide Estrack network can assist China to deliver a scientifically important lander and rover to the Moon,” says ESA’s Thomas Reiter, Director for Human Spaceflight and Operations.

“Whether for human or robotic missions, international cooperation like this is necessary for the future exploration of planets, moons and asteroids, benefitting everyone.”

The effort is being run from the Estrack Control Centre in ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

Chang’e-3 liftoff is set for around 18:00 GMT on 1 December, and the 15 m-diameter dish in Kourou will pick up the first signals around 18:44 GMT.
ESA's Estrack tracking station control room at ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt
Tracking network control room

Working with Chinese tracking stations, Kourou will support the mission through lunar orbit entry on 6 December continuing until just prior to its descent to the surface, expected around mid-day on 14 December.

The landing and rover operations on the Moon will be commanded via two Chinese tracking stations at Kashi, in the far west of China, and at Jiamusi, in the northeast.

“After the lander and rover are on the surface, we will use our 35 m-diameter deep-space antennas at Cebreros, Spain, and New Norcia, Australia, to provide ‘delta-DOR’ location measurement,” says Erik Soerensen, responsible for external mission tracking support at ESOC.

“Using this delta-DOR technique, you can compute locations with extreme accuracy, which will help our Chinese colleagues to determine the precise location of the lander.”

Together with Cebreros, New Norcia will record Chang’e-3’s radio signals during landing, which will help the Chinese space agency to reconstruct the trajectory for future reference.

A team of engineers from China will be on hand in Darmstadt. “While we’re very international at ESOC, hardly anyone speaks Mandarin, so having Chinese colleagues on site will really help in case of any unforeseen problems,” says Erik.

“Both sides are using international technical standards to enable our stations and ESOC to communicate with their mission and ground systems."

Please register your participation under MeetingsIOAG-17dregistration! An agenda will be sent out soon.
NASA and 11 other ISECG member agencies have released an update to the 2011 Global Exploration Roadmap. The updated document reflects ongoing dialog and continued preparation for exploration beyond low-Earth orbit – beginning with the International Space Station (ISS) and expanding human presence throughout the solar system, leading to human missions to the surface of Mars.

The GER highlights the critical role of the International Space Station in preparing for deep-space exploration.  It also demonstrates that the global community is working together on a space exploration strategic plan, with robotic and human missions to destinations that include near-Earth asteroids, the Moon and Mars.
The next IOAG meeting will be held on Tuesday 17 September 2013. A meeting invite with webex/telecon information will be sent out to delegates, and this information can also be found on the IOAG calendar. An agenda will follow in the weeks to come.

Please be sure to register your participation!
The next IOAG meeting will be hosted by UKSA at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory from 13-16 May 2013.

Further detailed information (and latest agenda and presentations) for IOAG Delegation Members can be found after logging into the IOAG website. 

For those who cannot attend in person, you can find webex/teleconference information after logging into the IOAG website, either under the Calendar link, or on the Meeting Documents> IOAG-17> IOAG A AG 2013 17 v1 
14 March 2013

ESA and the Russian federal space agency, Roscosmos, have signed a formal agreement to work in partnership on the ExoMars programme towards the launch of two missions in 2016 and 2018.

Establishing whether life ever existed on Mars is one of the outstanding scientific questions of our time and the highest scientific priority of the ExoMars programme.

The partners have agreed a balanced sharing of responsibilities for the different mission elements. ESA will provide the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM) in 2016, and the carrier and rover in 2018.

Roscosmos will be responsible for the 2018 descent module and surface platform, and will provide launchers for both missions. Both partners will supply scientific instruments and will cooperate closely in the scientific exploitation of the missions.
Trace Gas Orbiter

ExoMars will also demonstrate core technologies under development by European industry such as landing, roving, drilling and sample preparation that are an essential part of paving the way for the next big step in the robotic exploration of Mars: a sample-return mission.

The 2016 mission has two major ESA elements: TGO and EDM. TGO will search for evidence of methane and other atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes. It will also serve as a data relay for the 2018 mission. EDM will land on Mars to prove key technologies for the 2018 mission.

In 2018, the ExoMars rover, to be provided by ESA, will search the planet’s surface for signs of life, past and present. It will be the first Mars rover able to drill to depths of 2 m, collecting samples that have been shielded from the harsh conditions of the surface, where radiation and oxidants can destroy organic materials.

The rover will be delivered by a Russian descent module that includes a surface platform equipped with additional scientific instruments.
Signing partnership agreement for ExoMars

Today, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and Head of Roscosmos Vladimir Popovkin met at ESA Headquarters in Paris to sign an agreement that seals ExoMars as a partnership between the two space agencies.

“This is a momentous occasion for the ExoMars programme that will see industry and scientists from Europe and Russia working together on these two exciting missions, which will develop new technologies that will demonstrate the competitiveness of European industry, be important for preparing a solid participation of ESA in future international exploration missions and address the key question of whether life ever arose on Mars,” says Jean-Jacques Dordain.

“It has been a long way, we have performed a large amount of work together. The ExoMars programme is to become the second large project after Soyuz in Kourou,” says Vladimir Popovkin.
ExoMars rover

“It confirms again that projects of such tremendous scale have to be implemented through international cooperation. The scientific data that we are going to obtain during all the planned missions are important for the worldwide community.”

NASA will also deliver important contributions to ExoMars, including the Electra UHF radio package for TGO, and Mars Proximity Link telecom and engineering support to EDM.

Today’s signature between ESA and Roscosmos provides the basis for industry and scientific institutes to begin full cooperation on the missions and to meet the challenging schedule, with the first launch planned in January 2016.

The next IOAG meeting will be held on 5 March, 2013. Topics will be related to the preparation of IOAG-17 meeting (hosted by UKSA) in May 2013, and the IOP-3 (hosted by CNES) in June 2013.

IOAG Delegates: Please find an outlook calendar email invite detailing the telecon and webex instructions in your inbox. This information can also be found after logging into the IOAG website and on the IOAG website calendar.
AVIATION WEEK AEROSPACE DAILY & DEFENSE REPORT Daily Business intelligence for the global aerospace and defense industry since 1963


February 06,2013

Vol. 245 Issue 24

Copyright 2013 The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

1. ESA Role In NASA's Orion Seen Paving Way For International Exploration

The new partnership between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) on the Orion deep-space crew capsule opens the door for more international cooperation in human exploration beyond low Earth orbit, U.S. space officials say.
Just as the "critical path" to completion of the International Space Station was shared by U.S. and Russian launch vehicles, future exploration missions based on the four-seat Orion capsule will require European hardware in the capsule's service module.
That hardware will include the narrow, rectangular solar arrays that generate power for ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) when it delivers cargo to the ISS.
NASA has accepted ATV power and propulsion hardware for the Orion service module in lieu of cargo deliveries with ATVs as ESA's barter payment for the common systems operations costs on the ISS that the U.S. covers.
Under the deal, reached late last year after the ESA ministerial conference in Naples, Italy, ESA will work with Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin to build one service module using ATV components and a surplus space shuttle orbital maneuvering system (OMS) engine.
The agreement, which also includes ATV components for a second Orion service module, will cause a marked change in the appearance of the Orion concept that Lockheed Martin used to win the NASA contract to build the capsule. Instead of the twin circular solar arrays the company proposed -- the "Mickey Mouse Ears"
that have been featured in most concept illustrations of the Orion ever since -- the four narrow European arrays will be mounted aft of the crew cabin in the distinctive X-shaped configuration carried on the ATV.
The initial arrangement with ESA covers only the two ATV shipsets already in the ISS barter arrangement, but the U.S.-European "partnership" is likely to continue in use as NASA fleshes out its human exploration plans, according to Dan Dumbacher, the U.S. agency's deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development.
"It's a partnership with a defined content to it, and it was brought about because of the mutual interest of the two parties, and we were able to take advantage of available resources," he told the National Research Council's human spaceflight technical feasibility panel Feb. 4. "We consider this a partnership."
While the design could change after the current arrangement wraps up, NASA's decision is a significant change from the approach adopted in the Constellation Program of exploration vehicles that originally funded Orion. Under that George W. Bush administration effort, the critical path for transporting humans from the surface of the Earth to the surface of the Moon was restricted to U.S. vehicles.
The service module plan is "a huge deal for us, not because that particular piece of hardware is so critical -- it is -- [and] not just because of the money that it saves us, which is significant," says Greg Williams, deputy associate administrator for policy and plans in NASA's human exploration directorate.
"But it's really important because for the first time it brings an international partner into the critical path of space transportation development beyond low Earth orbit."
As NASA and its international partners flesh out a second draft of their "global exploration road map,"
known as GER 2.0, the precedent set with the ESA deal on Orion will shape the discussion, Williams said.
"For us it's kind of a pathfinder for engagement at that level, so the other partners looking around can say 'OK, we're having this nice dialogue about goals and objectives, but what does that really mean in terms of us being willing to play?'" he said. "Here we've shown that we've found a pathway, and opening, for an international partner to come in and provide a piece of hardware."
- Frank Morring, Jr. *

CCSDS Founder and Lifetime Leader
Active in CCSDS 1982-2012
Adrian Hooke dedicated his career to advancing the abilities of our international space agencies to work together, through development of data/communications technology and standards that enable multinational missions and bring many other benefits to the aerospace industry. He is credited with initiating the coordination that would eventually bring CCSDS into existence, and with providing not only technical and management leadership, but also the conscience, heart and soul of CCSDS for the three decades of his CCSDS participation.

From 1966-1969 Adrian worked in US industry as a member of the Kennedy Space Center launch team for the Apollo 9, 10, 11 and 12 Lunar Modules. Joining JPL in 1969, he was a member of the flight control teams for the Mariner 9 and 10 missions to Mars, Venus and Mercury. He worked on the Voyager onboard data system and led the design of the SEASAT end-to-end data system. In 1976, he took a position with the European Space Agency working on the flight operations architecture for ESA’s role in the Shuttle-SpaceLab program. Rejoining JPL in 1977, he focused on the development of new technology in the area of standardized space data communications protocols.

During this early period, Adrian worked on the development new approaches for space data communications. In 1974, he co-authored a new technology study on “Block Telemetry”, which actually flew on a later mission. With Adrian’s help, this work was expanded within NASA in 1977 to a JPL/GSFC collaboration, the NASA End to End Data System (NEEDS). Then, in 1979, Adrian used contacts from his time in the European Space Agency (ESA) to evolve NEEDS to an international collaboration; the NASA/ESA Working Group (NEWG). The NEWG would pioneer international usage of the “Packet Telemetry” scheme, the foundational telemetry scheme that would later become the bread-and-butter of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS). By 1982, Adrian and NASA HQ had expanded the NEWG to include other agencies, and the CCSDS was officially formed. Over the next 30 years, Adrian would perform a multitude of CCSDS leadership roles both in the highly technical and management arenas. Adrian served as the “technical conscience” of CCSDS, working towards the interests of both NASA and the whole international community, and forging a groundbreaking path for multi-agency spaceflight missions.

Adrian also brokered the agreement between the International Standards Organization (ISO) and CCSDS which would put CCSDS standards on a “fast track” to become ISO standards, by designating the CCSDS organization as ISO Technical Committee 20 Subcommittee 13 “Space Data and Information Transfer Systems”. Adrian also chaired the US Technical Advisory Group 13 (USTAG13) which formulates the US inputs into ISO TC20/SC13.

On the technical side, Adrian was instrumental in developing the Space Communications Protocol Specifications (SCPS), which were precursors to the advanced Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocols. He also provided a major technical leadership and Project Management roles for both DTN and Data Standards within NASA. At the peak of his leadership, Adrian served as the chairman of the CCSDS Engineering Steering Group (CESG) and as the NASA Project Lead and Technical Lead for the Data Standards project and DTN project in the Space Communications and Navigation office at NASA Headquarters.

Managing CCSDS overall, Adrian executed innumerable innovative management strategies, such as reorganizing CCSDS (in 2000), modeling it after the successful Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) processes. His technical vision and leadership drove the standards community as he executed and relentlessly promoted the adoption of standards by the international community. As of this writing, the adoption of CCSDS standards by over 600 missions, both US and international, is a testament to the broad influence that Adrian’s work has had on humankind’s spaceflight programs. Adrian’s leadership, vision, wit and wisdom was a principal driver for the first three decades of CCSDS accomplishments. Adrian will be sorely missed by his NASA and international friends and colleagues.

Adrian held a B.Sc. (Honours) in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the University of Birmingham, England. He was registered as a Chartered Engineer (C.Eng.) with the IEE in London and as a European Engineer (Eur. Ing.) with FEANI in Paris. He was awarded two NASA Exceptional Service Medals and the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal. He was also awarded a one-of-a-kind special CCSDS award for his lifetime leadership, in April 2012.
TDRS-K was successfully launched from the Kennedy Space Center Space Launch Complex 41 at 8:48 p.m. EST on Jan. 30, 2013. Controllers in Australia confirmed initial contact with it two hours and three minutes later.

The first on-orbit signals from the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)-K has been received, demonstrating that the vehicle is functioning and ready to use its internal engine to boost it to its operational geosynchronous orbit. After reaching final orbit, it will undergo three months of tests and calibration before being put into operation by NASA to provide critical communications relay services to NASA and other U.S. space programs.

The picture attached is the United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket carrying NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-K, TDRS-K, streaking past the Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Complex 39.
The January 2013 launch of TDRS-K will begin the replenishment of the fleet through the development and deployment of the next generation spacecraft. These satellites will ensure the Space Network's continuation of around-the-clock, high throughput communications services to NASA's missions; serving the scientific community and human spaceflight program for years to come.

The launch of NASA's TDRS-K Tracking and Data Relay Satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will be on Jan. 30. The launch window is 8:48 to 9:28 p.m. EST, a duration of 40 minutes.

Want to view the TDRS-K Launch? NASA Television launch coverage will begin at 6:15 p.m. on launch day and conclude after the TDRS-K spacecraft has separated from the Atlas V, which occurs one hour, 46 minutes after launch. The 40 minute launch window opens at 8:48 p.m. EST. Live launch coverage will be carried on all NASA Television channels.

For NASA Television downlink information, schedule information and streaming video, visit:

For the latest information on the TDRS-K launch, visit:,
ESA’s powerful new tracking station ready for service
14-12-2012 12:00 PM CET

A new satellite tracking station at Malargüe, Argentina, will be formally inaugurated on Tuesday, completing the trio of deep-space stations and confirming ESA as one of the world’s most technologically advanced space organisations.
From: European Space Agency [] 

Giant tracking station readies for operation
31-10-2012 10:00 AM CET

One of the world’s most sophisticated satellite tracking stations is nearing inauguration in Malargüe, Argentina, 1000 km west of Buenos Aires. The new station will ensure reliable communications with missions voyaging hundreds of millions of kilometres into our Solar System.
Please be sure to register and confirm your participation to the Secretariat and via the IOAG website. The teleconference number and webex information can be found on your outlook invite sent by the Secretariat, as well as the IOAG website calendar.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss past action items and further prepare for the upcoming IOAG-16 meeting to be held at the Kennedy Space Center from 12-14 December 2012. 
Please be sure to register and confirm your participation to the Secretariat and on the IOAG website. Further teleconference number and webex information can be found on your outlook invite sent by the Secretariat, as well as the IOAG website calendar.

The meeting is held in preparation for the IOAG-16 meeting on 12-14 December 2012. 
(25 June 2012) One of the global space community’s longest-running cooperative forums met in Europe earlier this month, highlighting ESA’s leadership role in coordinating use of the radio waves without which no mission can succeed.

For decades, ESA has served as permanent executive secretary of the Space Frequency Coordination Group (SFCG), a little-known technical body charged with coordinating and managing the radio waves used for communication by all space-faring organisations.

For 32 years, the SFCG has worked to ensure that radio frequencies are wisely and fairly used – work that is far more important than the committee’s arcane technical name would suggest.

“There are only a finite range of radio frequencies that can be used by spacecraft and satellites to communicate between each other and back to ground stations on Earth,” says Edoardo Marelli, Head of ESA’s Frequency Management Office. 

“The role of the SFCG is to coordinate the frequencies allocated to civil spaceflight use, and to optimise the benefits of this precious and very limited natural resource.”

The SFCG’s 29 regular members encompass all the largest and most significant space agencies, including NASA, ESA, national European space agencies, Eumetsat, NOAA and national agencies from Russia, China and 14 other nations.

Institutional observer members include the International Telecommunication Union and the World Meteorological Organisation.

“SFCG was started by ESA and the French space agency 32 years ago, and it’s one of the most mature and longest-running examples of international cooperation in space,” says Enrico Vassallo, responsible for frequency coordination at ESA’s ESOC Establishment.

“It’s up to ESA the set the agenda, manage issues and, when necessary, break ties to ensure that the annual meetings produce decisions and results that enable all operators to build and fly their missions.”

This year’s intensive seven-day meeting was hosted by ESA at ESOC in Darmstadt, Germany, and ended on 20 June.

Delegates agreed a number of important issues, including coordinating radio frequencies for ESA’s Solar Orbiter mission, planned for launch in 2017, and identifying the bands to be used for future exploration missions around, or on, the Moon.

By cooperating in the SFCG, all space agencies gain the benefits of reducing the risk of interference to their missions, protecting the frequency bands allocated to space services from other spectrum users and creating strong opportunities for cross-support and interoperability.

“And that boosts return on space investment for everyone,” says Enrico.

Manfred Warhaut, Head of Mission operations at ESA, explains that access to space is not only a matter of developing launchers.

“It also requires well-managed radio frequencies for communication. Without that, no one would fly any missions at all.”
IOAG-15a will be held via telecon on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 to follow up on discussions and action items held at IOAG-15 in Toulouse, France.

Heads of delegation should have recieved an email invitation for the teleconference number and webex information, if not please contact the IOAG Secretariat. Please be sure to confirm your attendance by also registering on the IOAG website.

The IOAG-15a agenda will be available shortly.

05:00 Pasadena
08:00 Washington DC
13:00 UTC
13:00 London
14:00 Frankfurt/Rome
17:00 Moscow
17:30 New Delhi
21:00 Beijing
22:00 Tokyo/Seoul
The Chairman and host of IOAG-15 has provided the following information regarding the logistics for the meeting in Toulouse on 6-8 December 2011:
Location:  "Cité de l'Espace" (Toulouse Space City)
Address: Avenue Jean Gonord - 31506 Toulouse (East of Toulouse, see attached access plan)
Meeting Room: Sirius Room (capacity 30 people; wireless; video; coffee breaks & lunches are included)
Related Activities: Short visit of one attraction possible on Dec 08 afternoon
Working Hours:  9h00 - 19h00 latest (if required)
More information is available on their web site (including nearby hotels): 

The Global Exploration Roadmap (GER) developed by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group was released on 9 Sept 2011. This roadmap is the culmination of work by 12 space agencies during the past year to advance coordinated space exploration.

The GER begins with the International Space Station and expands human presence throughout the solar system, leading ultimately to crewed missions to explore the surface of Mars.

The roadmap identifies two potential pathways: "Asteroid Next" and "Moon Next." Each pathway represents a mission scenario that covers a 25-year period with a logical sequence of robotic and human missions.
Both pathways were deemed practical approaches to address common high-level exploration goals developed by the participating agencies, recognizing that individual preferences among them may vary.

To view the document, visit: 

The IOAG 2010 Annual Report is now available. The report highlights IOAG’s accomplishments, new activities and meetings.

The report can be found in the Public Documents Folder or by following this link:  
Statement by the President on the New National Space Policy

Over the past fifty years, America has led the world in space exploration, broadening humanity’s horizons and our understanding of the universe.  And our achievements have in turn led to incredible technological advances that have improved our lives and transformed our economy.  We can point to satellites orbiting hundreds of miles overhead that can identify our location within inches, or communications systems that allow information to flow around the world as never before.  In part, what has made this progress possible was a commitment by our nation to scientific discovery and technological innovation, and an unyielding faith in the future – even during difficult times.

That is why each President since Dwight Eisenhower has defined a national space policy: to ensure that as we confront the pressing issues of the day, we continue to press forward in the pursuit of new frontiers.  Today, my administration is continuing in this tradition.  We are releasing a new national space policy, designed to strengthen America’s leadership in space while fostering untold rewards here on earth.  For even as we continue our relentless focus on the serious challenges we face at home and abroad, our long term success and leadership as a nation demands that we do not lose sight of the promise of the future.

Our policy reflects the ways in which our imperatives and our obligations in space have changed in recent decades.  No longer are we racing against an adversary; in fact, one of our central goals is to promote peaceful cooperation and collaboration in space, which not only will ward off conflict, but will help to expand our capacity to operate in orbit and beyond.  In addition, this policy recognizes that as our reliance on satellites and other space-based technologies increases, so too does our responsibility to address challenges such as debris and other hazards.  No longer is space just a destination to reach; it is a place where we must be able to work in ways that are responsible, sustainable, and safe.  And it is central to our security and the security of our allies, as spaced-based technology allows us to communicate more effectively, to operate with greater precision and clarity, and to better protect our men and women in uniform.

But, above all, this policy is about the boundless possibilities of the future.  That is why we seek to spur a burgeoning commercial space industry, to rapidly increase our capabilities in space while bolstering America’s competitive edge in the global economy.  We are proposing improved observation of the earth, to gain new insights into our environment and our planet.  We set ambitious goals for NASA: ramping up robotic and human space exploration, with our sights set on Mars and beyond, to improve the capacity of human beings to learn and work safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time.  And this policy recognizes the importance of inspiring a new generation of young people to pursue careers in science and engineering.  For, ultimately, our leadership as a nation – in this or any endeavor – will depend on them.

In short, this policy, while new, reflects the standards of leadership we have set since the dawn of the space age, and ideals as old as America itself.  We do not fear the future; we embrace the future.  Even in times of trial, we do not turn inward; we harness the ingenuity and talents of our people, we set bold goals for our nation, and we lead the world toward new frontiers.  That is what has ensured our prosperity in the past.  And that is what will ensure our prosperity in this new century as well.


Fact Sheet: The National Space Policy

Today, President Obama announced the administration’s new National Space Policy.  The National Space Policy expresses the President’s direction for the Nation’s space activities.  The policy articulates the President’s commitment to reinvigorating U.S. leadership in space for the purposes of maintaining space as a stable and productive environment for the peaceful use of all nations.

Leading Collaborative, Responsible, and Constructive Use of Space

The space age began as a race for security and prestige between two superpowers.  The decades that followed have seen a radical transformation in the way we live our daily lives, in large part due to our use of space.  The growth and evolution of the global economy have ushered in an ever-increasing number of nations and organizations using space to observe and study our Earth, create new markets and new technologies, support operational responses to natural disasters, enable global communications and international finance, enhance security, and expand our frontiers.  The impacts of our utilization of space systems are ubiquitous, and contribute to increased transparency and stability among nations. 

In a world where the benefits of space permeate almost every facet of our lives, irresponsible acts in space can have damaging consequences for all of us.  As such, all nations have a responsibility to act to preserve the right of all future generations to use and explore space.  The United States is committed to addressing the challenges of responsible behavior in space, and commits further to a pledge of cooperation, in the belief that with strengthened international cooperation and reinvigorated U.S. leadership, all nations will find their horizons broadened, their knowledge enhanced, and their lives greatly improved.

Key Elements of the Administration’s National Space Policy   

•  The United States remains committed to many long-standing tenets in space activities.  The United States recognizes the rights of all nations to access, use, and explore space for peaceful purposes, and for the benefit of all humanity. 

•  The United States calls on all nations to share its commitment to act responsibly in space to help prevent mishaps, misperceptions, and mistrust.  The United States will take steps to improve public awareness of government space activities and enable others to share in the benefits of space through conduct that emphasizes openness and transparency.

•  The United States will engage in expanded international cooperation in space activities. The United States will pursue cooperative activities to the greatest extent practicable in areas including:  space science and exploration; Earth observations, climate change research, and the sharing of environmental data; disaster mitigation and relief; and space surveillance for debris monitoring and awareness. 

•  The United States is committed to a robust and competitive industrial base.  In support of its critical domestic aerospace industry, the U.S. government will use commercial space products and services in fulfilling governmental needs, invest in new and advanced technologies and concepts, and use a broad array of partnerships with industry to promote innovation.  The U.S. government will actively promote the purchase and use of U.S. commercial space goods and services within international cooperative agreements. 

•  The United States recognizes the need for stability in the space environment.  The United States will pursue bilateral and multilateral transparency and confidence building measures to encourage responsible actions in space, and will consider proposals and concepts for arms control measures if they are equitable, effectively verifiable, and enhance the national security of the United States and its allies.  In addition, the United States will enhance its space situational awareness capabilities and will cooperate with foreign nations and industry to augment our shared awareness in space.

•  The United States will advance a bold new approach to space exploration.  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will engage in a program of human and robotic exploration of the solar system, develop new and transformative technologies for more affordable human exploration beyond the Earth, seek partnerships with the private sector to enable commercial spaceflight capabilities for the transport of crew and cargo to and from the International Space Station, and begin human missions to new destinations by 2025.

•  The United States remains committed to the use of space systems in support of its national and homeland security.  The United States will invest in space situational awareness capabilities and launch vehicle technologies; develop the means to assure mission essential functions enabled by space; enhance our ability to identify and characterize threats; and deter, defend, and if necessary, defeat efforts to interfere with or attack U.S. or allied space systems.

•  The United States will fully utilize space systems, and the information and applications derived from those systems, to study, monitor, and support responses to global climate change and natural disasters.  The United States will accelerate the development of satellites to observe and study the Earth’s environment, and conduct research programs to study the Earth’s lands, oceans, and atmosphere.   

WASHINGTON -- NASA senior managers met with their counterparts representing other space agencies at the National Harbor, Md., on June 23, to discuss globally-coordinated human and robotic space exploration.

The meeting participants agreed that significant progress has been made since the joint release of The Global Exploration Strategy (GES) in May 2007. They agreed steps should be taken to coordinate a long-term space exploration vision that is sustainable and affordable.

The meeting included representatives from the Italian Space Agency, the French Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, China National Space Administration, Canadian Space Agency, German Aerospace Center, European Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Korea Aerospace Research Institute, NASA, National Space Agency of Ukraine, Russian Federal Space Agency and the U.K. Space Agency.

The agencies' senior managers welcomed the development of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group's (ISECG) first reference architecture, which is focused on human lunar exploration.
They agreed to expand their work to all key exploration destinations and the critical building blocks required to reach those destinations. This "global exploration roadmap" is a key part of an evolving international architecture effort. Senior managers discussed the importance of an early dialogue focused on near-term opportunities for cooperation, such as robotic precursor missions and using the International Space Station as an exploration test bed.
There was agreement to hold further strategic discussions at the senior management level to review the progress of ISECG.

The ISECG was established in response to the GES, which stated a shared vision of coordinated human and robotic space exploration focused on solar system destinations where humans may one day live and work. Among the GES findings was the need to establish a voluntary, non-binding international coordination mechanism through which partner agencies could exchange information regarding interests, plans and activities in space exploration. Another goal is to work together on strengthening both individual exploration programs and collective efforts.

For more information on the International Space Exploration Coordination Group, visit: 

For more information about the International Space Station, visit: 

For more information about NASA's exploration missions, visit:  
IOAG 13a was held in Huntsville, Alabama at the von Braun Center on Monday, 26 April.

IOAG 14 is scheduled to be held in London, England during the first week of November 2010.
The final version of the IOAG Service Catalog #1 has been approved by the IOAG and is now available.  To download a copy, please go to Documents-> Public Documents.  Alternatively, you can download a copy here:

This catalog describes ground based cross-support services that will be managed by IOAG member agencies.
A public ISECG website, hosted by ESA, has been launched. 
The SpaceOps Conference is the chance for your mission or project to share your dreams and deliveries with the community. And this is your chance to bring the ideas, innovations, and experiences, both exhilarating and painful, from other professionals, back to your home turf to benefit your program. We in the SpaceOps community believe that with an enthusiastically communicating operations community, we all become stronger – and mankind’s dream to utilize and explore space becomes a reality.   
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) applied for Observer status and attendance to the upcoming IOAG-13 meeting.  They applied on July 24, 2009. 
The IOAG 2010 Annual Report is now available. The report highlights IOAG’s accomplishments, new activities and meetings.  The report can be found in the Public Documents Folder or by following this link: