NASA picks three companies to send cargo to the moon – CNN

Three small companies that built robotic lunar landers are getting big business from NASA.

Texas-based Intuitive Machines, Astrobotic of Pittsburgh, and a group called OrbitBeyond were each selected by NASA to deliver science and research cargo to the moon. The companies could complete their first missions within the next couple of years, executives and NASA officials said Friday.
The cargo will include devices that will help map and navigate the lunar surface, measure radiation levels, conduct scientific investigations, and assess how human activity impacts the moon, NASA said in a press release.

Each partner is providing end-to-end commercial payload delivery services to NASA, including payload integration and operations, launch from Earth and landing on the surface of the Moon. These early missions will enable important technology demonstrations that will inform the development of future landers and other exploration systems needed for humans to return to the lunar surface. They also will help prepare the agency to send astronauts to explore Mars.

“This announcement starts a significant step in NASA’s collaboration with our commercial partners,” said Chris Culbert, CLPS program manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “NASA is committed to working with industry to enable the next round of lunar exploration. The companies we have selected represent a diverse community of exciting small American companies, each with their own unique, innovative approach to getting to the Moon. We look forward to working with them to have our payloads delivered and opening the door for returning humans to the Moon.”

Source: NASA picks three companies to send cargo to the moon – CNN

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NASA was sold faulty aluminum in 19-year scam – CNET

NASA on Tuesday revealed that a pair of failed missions were caused by a 19-year aluminum scam.

The space agency previously said the 2009 Orbiting Carbon Observatory and 2011 Glory missions malfunctioned when the protective nose cones on the Taurus XL rockets failed to separate on command.

However, a joint investigation involving NASA and the Justice Department revealed that the problem was caused by aluminum extrusion maker Sapa Profiles, which falsified critical tests over 19 years.

Employees at the company’s Portland, Oregon, facilities tweaked failing tests so materials appeared to pass from 1996 to 2015, according to the Justice Department.

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Source: NASA was sold faulty aluminum in 19-year scam – CNET

This Week, NASA Is Pretending An Asteroid Is On Its Way To Smack The Earth : NPR

The asteroid is in a horrible orbit and has a 1% chance of striking Earth in just eight years. And — thank goodness — it doesn’t really exist.

It’s a fictitious asteroid that’s the focus of a realistic exercise devised for scientists and engineers from around the world who are attending the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference being held this week outside Washington, D.C.

A real asteroid of this size, should it ever hit the planet, could wipe out an entire city.

“This is a threat that could happen, even though it’s extremely unlikely,” says Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who created this realistic simulation. “Our goal here is to go through all of the steps that we would have to go through.”

He says a lot has been learned from three previous drills held at past international conferences and from other asteroid exercises that have been separately conducted by officials at NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Source: This Week, NASA Is Pretending An Asteroid Is On Its Way To Smack The Earth : NPR

NASA needs a camera to spot killer asteroids — Quartz

Forget aliens. We’ve got to find the asteroids.

Astronomers tend to be patient people. When it comes to stars, much of what they examine happened millions of years ago, and when it comes to space probes, even pre-launch prep can take a decade or more.

But they are getting impatient about launching an infrared space telescope called NEOCam. It has a very specific mission: Spotting near-Earth objects—astronomical bodies, most commonly asteroids, whose orbits around the sun could pass close to Earth and potentially collide with our planet, some of which could damage or destroy civilization itself.

It’s not speculative; a major meteoric impact is inevitable, and we need to keep a better eye on the solar system.

Source: NASA needs a camera to spot killer asteroids — Quartz