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Bridenstine, departing NASA, hopes Artemis continues

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WASHINGTON — Jim Bridenstine used part of his final full day as NASA administrator to call on the incoming administration to continue the Artemis program and return humans to the moon.

A Jan. 19 briefing on the Green Run static-fire test of the Space Launch System three days earlier became an opportunity for Bridenstine, who leaves the agency Jan. 20 at the end of the Trump administration, to reflect on his nearly three years on the job and his desire to see the agency’s human space exploration program continue.

“How do we build a program that can endure the test of time?” he said, noting the starts and stops of efforts dating back to the Space Exploration Initiative three decades ago. “We need our Artemis program, we need our moon-to-Mars program, to span generations.”

The failures of past efforts mean that Bridenstine, born in 1975, is the first NASA administrator not to have been alive when people last walked on the moon. “I think it’s important that I be the last NASA administrator in history that wasn’t alive when we had people living and working on the moon,” he said. “That’s a failure of the United States and of humanity. We need to make sure that we’re leading the world in a return to the moon and on to Mars.”

The incoming Biden administration has not detailed its plans for the space agency. A passage in the Democratic Party platform published last July indicated support for a human return to the moon, but did not endorse the Trump administration’s 2024 goal for doing so, a timeframe most in the industry now see as infeasible given limited funding and technical challenges.

“NASA needs to go back and look at the what the options are to go to the moon as quickly as possible,” Bridenstine said in an interview after the Jan. 16 Green Run test at the Stennis Space Center. That’s made more difficult, he acknowledged, by the funding shortfall for the Human Landing System (HLS) program for developing crewed lunar landers, which received only about one-fourth of the $3.3 billion NASA sought for fiscal year 2021.

In the call, Bridenstine said NASA was still analyzing the impact of the reduced HLS funding for that 2024 goal, given that the omnibus spending bill was signed into law less than a month ago. “NASA is doing its work to figure out, number one, do we need to change plans,” he said. “I have no doubt that the amazing people at NASA are going to present a range of options for our return to the moon that the next administration can fully buy into and support.”

Those plans, he said in the earlier interview, should include the SLS. “If we’re talking about sending humans to the moon, that’s the highest probability of success at the earliest possible moment,” he said. “Given the amount of effort and time and investment that has already been made, let’s just get it over the finish line and then go from there.”

Bridenstine’s successor

Bridenstine is leaving NASA with relatively little fanfare, such as a farewell ceremony. Jim Morhard, the departing deputy administrator, posted on Twitter a tribute video for Bridenstine Jan. 19, thanking him for his work leading the agency.

“This has been an emotional week just all the way around,” Bridenstine said in the interview. He said he had been in Washington just before the Green Run test “doing our farewells to people.”

With Bridenstine and Morhard departing, Steve Jurczyk, NASA associate administrator, will serve as acting administrator until the Biden administration nominates, and the Senate confirms, a permanent successor. The new administration hasn’t stated when it anticipates announcing a nominee, but did announce its “science team” Jan. 15, including the nomination of geneticist Eric Lander as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Shortly after the election, several potential candidates for NASA administrator emerged, primarily women. They have included former astronaut Pam Melroy, former Aerospace Corporation chief executive Wanda Austin, and Kendra Horn, a former congresswoman who chaired the House space subcommittee in the previous Congress.

“I think the Biden-Harris administration would very much like to name, from everything I understand, the first woman NASA administrator,” said Jack Burns, a professor of astronomy at the University of Colorado who served on the NASA transition team for the Trump administration four years ago, during a session of the 237th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society Jan. 14. “Some of the names that have been put forward are extremely well qualified.”

Bridenstine, in the interview, offered a similar assessment, but without identifying any particular candidates. “I’ve heard some names, all very qualified, very capable people,” he said. “I’m confident that the future is bright.”

That transition work has taken place quietly, and without some of the conflict and drama seen at other agencies where the outgoing Trump administration was uncooperative. “The situation at NASA, both in the last transition and this transition, has in fact been much closer to normal,” Burns said. “In talking to the Biden-Harris transition team for NASA, I have the sense that there has been good collaboration.”

Bridenstine said he hasn’t made any plans for his future after NASA, other than returning to Oklahoma and spending time with his family there. “I love space, but I don’t know what the future holds there,” he said when asked if he would like to remain in the industry in some way. “We’ll have to see.”

Bridenstine did say he’ll be closely following the agency, planning to watch next month’s landing of the Mars 2020 rover and the Artemis 1 launch. He also pledged to support whomever succeeds him as the leader of NASA. “Whoever the next NASA administrator is, I’m going to be all-in,” he said in the interview. “However I can help them, I want to help them.”

He reiterated that point at the end of the Green Run briefing. “I will be watching with great interest,” he said. “There will be a new NASA administrator, and when that person comes in, they’re going to have my full support to do the amazing things that NASA does.”

Source: https://spacenews.com/bridenstine-departing-nasa-hopes-artemis-continues/

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Microchip makes PolarFire defence-grade FPGAs available in volume production

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Microchip makes PolarFire defence-grade FPGAs available in volume production

Aerospace, defence, automotive and industrial designers who need defence- and automotive-grade programmable logic solutions can now order PolarFire Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) in volume production quantities.

Microchip Technology has announced it is shipping PolarFire FPGAs qualified for both the military temperature grade (-40°C to 125°C TJ) and Automotive Electronics Council Q100 (AEC-Q100) specification Grade T2 (-40°C to 125°C TJ).

These offerings extend Microchip’s low-power leadership as a supplier of FPGAs for diverse high-reliability markets. With their thermal and space design constraints, automotive, industrial and military applications deployed in harsh environments require solutions that offer power and space efficiency as well as cryptographic security. PolarFire FPGAs offer on-chip security features that enable secure communication, an encrypted bitstream, and a cryptographically secured supply chain, ensuring tamper-proof solutions for these market segments.

Unlike SRAM-based FPGAs, Microchip devices can operate without fans and in some cases without heatsinks, simplifying the thermal design of the system and creating new opportunities for smaller, lighter designs. This is especially important in automotive applications such as blind spot detection, lane change warning systems and back up cameras. Additionally, the extended temperature range of our military grade devices coupled with our state-of-the-art security enables developers to trust and add more compute power within a thermally constrained environments such as those found in advanced strategic weapons systems.

“Removing heat from a system is not free,” said Bruce Weyer, vice-president of Microchip’s FPGA business unit. “The less heat you move, the lower your total system costs become. In some cases, complete removal of fans from systems, which often have a low mean time between failure, is possible. Automotive and aerospace design engineers can now develop mid-range FPGA solutions with the lowest total power, highest reliability, and best-in-class security technologies, all at a lower total system cost.”

www.microchip.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/microchip-makes-polarfire-defence-grade-fpgas-available-in-volume-production/

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Virgin Galactic Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya sells off remaining personal stake in the space company

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The man who arguably ushered in the current SPAC rush with the merger of Virgin Galactic with his Social Capital Hedosophia holding company has divested the remainder of his personal holdings in the space tourism company. Chamath Palihapitiya, who serves as the chairman of Virgin Galactic’s board, still holds 6.2% ownership in the company in partnership with investor Ian Osborne, but his solo holdings are now at zero.

Palihapitiya provided the following statement to TechCrunch via Virgin Galactic:

I sold 6M shares for $200M which I am planning to redirect into a large investment I am making towards fighting climate change. The details of this investment will be made public in the next few months. I remain as dedicated as ever to Virgin Galactic’s team, mission and prospects.

Palihapitiya sold 3.8 million shares in December 2020, noting that he was selling that equity “to help manage [his] liquidity” in order to provide funding for “several new projects starting in 2021.” At the time, Palihapitiya said he “remained committed and excited fore the future of SPCE [Virgin Galactic’s stock ticker on the NYSE].”

The sale this week comprised 6.2 million shares, netting Palihapitiya roughly $213 million in the process.

Virgin Galactic has had some setbacks in its testing program that pushed the projected date of its first paying commercial tourists flights out into 2022, from an earlier target of sometime this year. The company installed Disney Parks leader Michael Colglazier as its new CEO last July, replacing George Whitesides, who moved into a chief space officer role, before it was revealed Thursday that he’s departing the company. Whitesides’ decision is said to be due to a desire to pursue public service opportunities.

Space as a sector has been a hotbed of SPAC activity of late, with mergers from a number of companies including Astra, Spire, Rocket Lab, BlackSky and Momentus announced over the course of the past year. Virgin Galactic, as one of the earliest, will be closely watched by anyone looking for a yardstick by which to measure the tactic. The company’s share value is down just over 5% pre-market, and has been on a steady decline since reaching an all-time peak around mid-February.


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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/03/05/virgin-galactic-chairman-chamath-palihapitiya-sells-off-remaining-personal-stake-in-the-space-company/

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Diamond tooling for hard materials presented at Intec Connect

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Diamond tooling for hard materials presented at Intec Connect

Horn is presenting in the expo area at this year’s Intec Connect online machine tool and metalworking show an expanded range of CVD (chemical vapour deposition) diamond-tipped tooling.

The tools, used for cost-effective drilling and countersinking of sintered carbides and ceramics of hardness up to 3,000HV, enable short throughput times, high surface quality, low costs and more flexibility within the production process as well as long tool life.

The DDHM tool system allows rigorous machining processes to be carried out on conventional milling and turning centres, eliminating the need to invest in expensive new machinery or resort to costly, time-consuming grinding and eroding processes.

Due to their ability to machine carbide punches and dies efficiently, the cutters are particularly suitable for use in the tool and die making sector. However, they also offer production advantages in the medical, aerospace and automotive industries.

The CVD-D-tipped drills are ideal for producing holes in solid material to a maximum depth of ten times diameter. They are of two-edged design and are available in diameters ranging from 2mm to 10mm.

All versions feature internal channels for cooling with air. For chamfering and countersinking, Horn offers CVD-D end mills with diameters of 3mm and 6mm and with flank angles of 15, 30 and 45 degrees. The 3mm version has five teeth while the 6mm version has six.

www.phorn.co.uk

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/diamond-tooling-for-hard-materials-presented-at-intec-connect/

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ISRO is one of the Best Space Agency in Efficient Use of Funding for Satellite Launches, Says Experts 

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Under the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Framework, a proposal for ‘BRICS Virtual Constellation of Remote Sensing Satellites’ in order to establish a mechanism to share remote sensing satellite data is under consideration.

India & Brazil Space Cooperation

Recently, India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) along with 18 other satellites launched the Brazilian satellite Amazonia-1 which was the primary payload. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C-51 on February 28, 2021, launched a total of 19 satellites from the First Launch Pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, Sriharikota. They were part of the first dedicated commercial PSLV mission for its commercial company NewSpace India Limited (NSIL).

As per the report, Amazonia-1 the primary payload on Sunday’s launch is the first earth observation satellite, designed, developed, assembled and tested in Brazil.

As per the report, the Space sector has been identified as a major area of cooperation by the top leaders of both countries. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Space, India and the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) was inked in March 2002, and this was then followed by a Framework Agreement in 2004. A Joint Working Group on Space which was constituted under the Agreement, met last January to identify priority areas for cooperation.

India and the South American nation Brazil have been collaborating in Data sharing and satellite tracking of Indian satellites on a semi-commercial basis.

In 2007, an Implementing Arrangement for Cooperation in Augmentation of Brazilian Earth stations was signed – this allowed access to Brazilian ground stations to remote sensing data from the Indian satellites. This included from Resourcesat-2. Brazilian earth stations of Alcantara and Cuiaba, which are being used by ISRO to receive and process data of Indian Remote Sensing satellites.

They have also been provided tracking facilities to Chandrayaan – 1 & 2 and ASTROSAT. Also as reported earlier, two officials from the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) had participated in ISRO’S ‘UNNATI’ (UNispace Nanosatellite 4 Assembly & Training by ISRO). This was an 8-week long training programme related to Nano-satellite building.

Views of  An Astronaut & Space Scientist From The LAC Region

Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Dr Adolfo Chaves-Jiménez, Coordinator, Space Systems Engineering Laboratory, Costa Rica Institute of Technology, Spaceflight crewman candidate says, “The launch of the Brazilian satellite Amazonia-1 and several other secondary loads, including another Latin American satellite (Nanoconect-1 from National Autonomous University of Mexico, UNAM) are two examples in different kind of applications on how the cooperation between ISRO and Latin America is effective.”

“ISRO has shown to be one of the best, if not the best, public agency regarding the efficient use of funding for satellite launches, being considered by many as one true contender to companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin or Planet Labs. This means that ISRO, with common interests to developing nations in Latin America, and with no restrictions like ITAR, has the potential to become a prime partner for future missions, with mutual benefits, like installation of ground stations of India in Latin America in exchange for launch opportunities,” says Dr Chaves-Jiménez, who is also part of the Costa Rica Space Agency Law project.

According to him, “The capabilities of ISRO could be complementary to nations, like Costa Rica, were in order to become space nations we could focus to be world-class on an application, and be supported by nations with complementary capabilities, like India. These complementary capabilities would enable the capabilities of developing countries to be part of the space research and development sector.”

Launching capabilities are an example of a complementary capability of ISRO since no Latin American nation has this capability (even when the launches of ESA are done from South American soil, but they belong to French Guyana).

“But launches are far from being the only cooperation required by Latin American nations. Exchange in knowledge in areas like manufacturing, biological applications, environmental technologies, software development and in general areas related to Industry 4.0 are all areas where mutual development offers future opportunities for all our countries.

For this reason, I strongly believe in the potential of alliances between ISRO and in general the Indian Space Sector and our work in Latin America in the area,” he concludes.

Says Ronnie Nader, father of the first Ecuadorian Satellites, “I think that the launch of Brazil’s Amazonas satellite onboard the Indian PSLV rocket marks an advance of ISRO’s launch vehicle capabilities in terms of establishing a presence in the Latin American space sector, which is growing fast. And, also not to forget that a Cubesat from the National Autonomous University of Mexico was also launched on this mission as a secondary payload. The fact that Brazil had selected PSLV and ISRO for a mission of such importance as Amazonas, which is an earth observation satellite, and therefore a big one, says much about the milestones achieved and the maturity of the PSLV system.”

“For our region is important to have launch partner as India, which, as an emerging country, understands better the needs and character of our region, our struggles and our march towards progress, I think that together we can achieve wonders, if we are given to the endeavour of strengthening our bonds, work together more often and longer.

I think it will go a long way for our peoples to have an interplanetary or lunar mission together from the emerging countries to show the world we are ready to not only participate but to contribute to humanity biggest enterprise which is the colonization of the solar system, its wonders and riches, but most importantly, to show our peoples that if it is true that space is for mankind, we, the emerging countries, are mankind too,” the Ecuadorian Astronaut concludes.

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Source: https://www.eletimes.com/isro-is-one-of-the-best-space-agency-in-efficient-use-of-funding-for-satellite-launches-says-experts

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