March 4, 2017

NASA Seeks Payload Ideas for Mystery Satellite (Source: Space News)
NASA is soliciting concepts for payloads that could fly on a mysterious satellite it is in discussions to inherit from another government agency. NASA issued a request for information (RFI) Feb. 15 for a proposed spacecraft called the NASA Science/Technology Platform Satellite, or NSTP-Sat. The RFI was the first time NASA had publicly discussed such a mission.

The RFI, issued by NASA’s science mission directorate, solicits ideas for payloads, including remote sensing instruments and technology demonstrations, which could fly on the spacecraft. The RFI offered few details about the proposed mission, noting NSTP-Sat could fly “to low earth orbit, geostationary equatorial orbit, medium Earth orbit, Earth-Moon L1, or lunar orbit in the 2021 timeframe.”

The RFI, which remains open until March 17, seeks ideas for how this spacecraft could be used to meet NASA’s science and technology development goals. The RFI states that NASA will use the responses to determine “whether there are science opportunities for new uses of this spacecraft” and “whether a solicitation for proposals is warranted to enable such opportunities.” (3/3)

Millennium Provided Critical Support to New Autonomous Flight Safety Innovation (Source: Millennium)
SpaceX's Feb. 19 Facon-9 launch from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport marked the beginning of a new era in spaceflight safety as vehicles move away from ground-based, manually commanded Flight Termination Systems (FTS) in favor of a new Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS).

AFSS was developed with software from Millennium Engineering and Integration, headquartered in Virginia with offices on Florida's Space Coast. The SpaceX [insert "Millennium Falcon" pun here]  launch was the first ever to rely exclusively on an AFSS. The system will significantly lower the costs associated with space launch operations while ensuring the safety of people and resources.

Millennium’s Flight Analyst Workstation Software (FAWS) was used to define and encode mission rules to independently assess the flight safety rules and associated mission data load for the vehicle. FAWS simulations using the government provided Core Autonomous Safety Software (CASS) demonstrated that the mission data load reflects the mission flight rules established to protect public safety. (3/3)

NASA Picks ULA for NOAA Earth Science and Weather Satellite Launch (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected United Launch Services to provide launch services for NOAA's Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) mission. Launch is currently targeted for 2021 on an Atlas V 401 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The total cost for NASA to launch JPSS-2 is approximately $170.6 million, which includes the launch service and other mission-related costs.

JPSS is a collaborative program between NOAA and NASA. This interagency effort is the latest generation of NOAA polar-orbiting environmental weather satellites. JPSS-2 is one of five satellites that will comprise the JPSS constellation. These spacecraft gather global measurements of atmospheric, terrestrial and oceanic conditions, including sea and land surface temperatures, vegetation, clouds, rainfall, snow and ice cover, fire locations and smoke plumes, atmospheric temperature, water vapor and ozone. (3/3)

NASA Asks Internet to Name New Planets with Predictable Results (Source: Calgary Herald)
Last week NASA set the Internet abuzz with excitement when it announced it had discovered seven Earth-like planets orbiting a nearby star. Now NASA has set the Internet abuzz with laughter when it asked people to name the planets in a tweet. Didn’t they learn from the Boaty McBoatface fiasco you should never let the Internet name anything?

The Internet responded with its usual enthusiasm for such things, offering the names of the Seven Dwarfs, the doomed characters from the Aliens films, the seven sins, the characters of the Friends cast and awe-inspiring titles such as “Planet McPlanetface,” “Slytherin’s Locket” and “Planet Hollywood.” There were a few political messages thrown in, such as “Hillary / Rodham / Clinton / Won / the / Popular / Vote” and “Far From Trump” 1-7. (3/3)

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