Good morning. Happy early Thanksgiving to all of our readers in the States. To everyone else, hope you have a great rest of your week. We’ll see you all back here Monday.
In today's newsletter:☄️ Artemis I cubesats🌕 Lunar comms webinar💸 The term sheet📝 The contract report
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Artemis I Hitchhiker Status Report
Since launching on November 16, the Artemis I core mission has gone off practically without a hitch (unless you count damage to the elevator doors near the pad as a vital loss). SLS successfully carried the Orion capsule out of the Earth’s atmosphere and sent it on its trajectory to the Moon, where it made its closest flyby on Monday.
Not every part of the mission has been so successful, though. Also on board SLS was a slew of science cubesats, each designed by a NASA partner to study the Moon, probe the radiation environment of deep space, or demonstrate nascent technology. SLS’s interim cryogenic propulsion stage, or ICPS, successfully deployed these cubesats. But as they begin to power up and communicate with Earth, many are running up against issues.
How’d we get here? NASA loaded the cubesats into ICPS before stacking the rocket. Because of design and access issues, teams couldn’t recharge all the cubesats while waiting for SLS to launch. Months of hydrogen, sensor, and hurricane-induced delays after the rocket was stacked meant that each was slowly losing power. And since they were stuck inside the rocket until deployment in space, it was hard to see which sats would have enough juice to complete their missions.
So, what’s the status of each cubesat? Let’s break them out into buckets.
All systems go: Luckily for a few teams, half of the Artemis I cubesats have successfully communicated with ground stations and are performing as planned. These missions are:
ArgoMoon, an Italian craft that is acting as an auxiliary imager for ICPS, snapping photos of the stage in all of its cryogenic beauty, along with pics of Moon and Earth
EQUULEUS, which stands for “EQUilibriUm Lunar-Earth point 6U Spacecraft,” which will gather data on the plasmasphere
Lunar IceCube, which will use a spectrometer to study water ice on the Moon
CuSP, a cubesat carrying three instruments to study solar particles
BioSentinel, an astrobiology mission carrying yeast experiments to deep space.
Holding out hope: The fate of a handful of the cubesats is still unknown, pending further attempts to get them going. These missions are:
LunaH-Map, which would use a neutron detector to create a map of lunar water ice. The craft turned on and successfully communicated with Earth, but its propulsion system failed to perform a correction maneuver that would have put it in the intended lunar polar orbit. The team is heating the propulsion system valve to try to get the thruster going.
LunIR, an infrared scanner investigating the lunar surface, has been sending home a weaker signal than anticipated. Terran Orbital, which is operating the cubesat, has not yet provided a mission update.
Radio silence: It’s hard to determine the status of a couple missions because the teams on the ground haven’t yet been able to make contact with their craft. That’s not a good sign, but it’s not necessarily a death sentence. The two missions in this camp:
1. NEA Scout, which would be studying near-Earth asteroids, and
2. Team Miles, which was developed by a group of citizen scientists to test plasma thrusters.
Farewell, little one? It’s sad to say, but perhaps our favorite of the entire pack—Japan’s OMOTENASHI cubesat—did not have enough power to begin its mission. OMOTENASHI, if it all had gone well, intended to attempt a landing on the lunar surface. Its operators are holding out hope that in March of 2023, the craft will get enough sunlight on its solar panels to power up and complete its mission, but for now it’s gone dark.
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The Best Composite Space Structures This Side of Mars!
What do Captain America and Atomic-6 have in common?
They use shields capable of withstanding projectiles going 161,000 MPH. Micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) are the #1 risk to your expensive space assets. Atomic-6 is developing all-composite MMOD shield technology that will significantly boost threat protection while simultaneously cutting spacecraft mass.
Atomic-6 is also developing high-performance, rollable composite masts with unprecedented stiffness, strength, stowage efficiency, and in-space stability. These structures will support the next generation of deployable solar arrays, antennas, and solar sails. And with a scalable manufacturing process, masts of any length (seriously, we mean any length!) can be made quickly and cost effectively.
Atomic-6 is an American advanced composites manufacturing firm. Its cutting-edge R&D and proprietary manufacturing processes bring composites to the next level, creating highly customizable products that are stronger, lighter, and produced faster than ever before.
Sign Up For Our Next Webinar On Lunar Comms
Communication between spacecraft and Earth is one of the most vital elements allowing humans to reach the Moon, but what happens once we get there?
Join leaders from ispace and CesiumAstro to learn more about what they are doing for NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program and the future of lunar communications.
In Other News
C-COM (TSX:CMI) cut the ribbon on a new R&D facility in Waterloo to develop and commercialize its phased array antennas.
A spaceplane built for the German Armed Forces completed its first test flight.
China is planning a test demonstration for a future in-orbit solar power plant.
JWST spotted active chemistry in an exoplanet’s atmosphere for the first time.
SpaceX launched the Eutelsat-10 mission aboard a Falcon 9 and expended the Falcon booster used for the mission.
The Term Sheet
Metaspectral raised a $7.4M seed round from SOMA Capital, Acequia Capital, the government of Canada, and multiple angels. The startup is developing deep learning models that can rapidly analyze hyperspectral data.
Airbus ($AIR) invested in climate solutions company Carbon Engineering Ltd. to support the world's largest direct air carbon capture R&D facility.
AST SpaceMobile ($ASTS) is seeking additional funding to accelerate constellation deployment (h/t SpaceNews). The Odessa, TX satellite-to-smartphone company raised $417M in its April 2021 de-SPAC.
Advanced Navigation, an AI, robotics, and navigation developer, scored AU$108M ($72M) from KKR in its ongoing Series B round. With any luck, the Aussie startup will soon be flying to the Moon with Intuitive Machines as part of the CLPS program.
Einstein Industries Ventures signed a collaboration agreement with the ESA Investor Network to create a €300M ($309M) fund over the next ten years to invest in Europe’s leading growth stage companies working on new space technologies.
The Contract Report
USSF’s Space Systems Command (SSC) and Blue Origin signed a CRADA for the company’s New Glenn rocket.
OneWeb secured partnerships to distribute its LEO services with A) Sat One in western Australia and B) Q-KON in South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique.
Airbus ($AIR) and ArianeGroup signed an Ariane 6 transition batch contract, covering the manufacturing and supply of large carbon fiber structures for the next fourteen Ariane 6 launchers.
EchoStar ($SATS) and Maxar ($MAXR) amended an agreement for Hughes JUPITER 3 satellite production, which is currently planned to launch in the first half of 2023.
The View from the Spacewalk
Roscosmos released some stunning images of its cosmonauts performing a recent spacewalk at the ISS.
Roscosmos shared great photos from the last EVA #VKD55.
— Katya Pavlushchenko (@katlinegrey)
Nov 22, 2022