Today marks an important milestone in the strategic partnership between Valuechain Enterprise Systems and PrintSyst, upon completing the integration of PrintSyst’s cutting edge AI engine, the 3DP AI-Perfecter, into Valuechain’s industrial-grade MES, DNA.am.
The two companies have partnered to develop an integrated MES that will leverage PrintSyst’s world class AI engine, which enables an automated pre-printing workflow and thus assists customers in industries such as Aerospace, Automotive and Defence, to significantly improve their productivity and scale up their 3D printing production.
The integrated Valuechain-PrintSyst solution provides a state-of-the-art smart automation that learns from previous Additive Manufacturing builds and analyses the exact intent for which a specific part is going to be used to comply with industry specifications. It then accordingly suggests printing parameters that will have the highest probability of right-first-time Additive Manufacturing builds, accurately estimates 3D parts costs, recommends on the most suitable materials to be used based on 3D parts’ functional needs and eliminates the need for trial and error. Bottom line, this paves the way for transforming 3D Printing productivity through improved quality, cost and delivery responsiveness.
Tom Dawes, CEO of Valuechain, (pictured above on the right) commented: “Industrial 3D printing has continued to grow over recent months, as companies that initially trialled the technology are looking to scale up. Covid-19 has illustrated the importance of a robust supply chain structure, underpinned by secure collaboration and intelligence. However, many of these companies lack the digital solutions that drive 3D printing productivity while providing a path for an automated, standardized and certifiable digital workflow. Based on our customers’ feedback so far, I am confident that our collaboration with PrintSyst will be pivotal in addressing this critical need.”
Itamar Yona, PrintSyst’s CEO and co-founder, added that “combining our world class AI engine and hands on industry experience, with DNA.am’s leading industrial-grade MES, will step change the manual, costly and unscalable 3D printing workflow. We are now able to take into account multiple additional parameters that exist in DNA.am MES and automatically train our engine so we can provide instant, highly personalised and optimized printing recommendations to our joint customers.”
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Live coverage: Rocket Lab scrubs launch from New Zealand
Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from Launch Complex 1 on Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand carrying a clandestine payload for the German company OHB. Text updates will appear automatically below. Follow us on Twitter.
Rocket Lab’s live video webcast begins approximately 15 minutes prior to launch, and will be available on this page.
FCC C-band auction raised nearly $81 billion so far
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Federal Communication Commission’s C-band auction of 280 megahertz of C-band has raised nearly $81 billion and it’s not quite over.
Still to come is the assignment phase, where companies awarded spectrum blocks bid for frequency-specific licenses.
Prior to the auction, companies struggled to put a price tag on the bandwidth. ACA Connects, a collection of cable and internet providers, for example, suggested in 2019 that 500 megahertz of the prized mid-band spectrum could be worth as much as $60 billion. Instead the auction of 280 megahertz produced an $81 million windfall for the U.S. Treasury.
“The amount of money surprised people,” said Armand Musey, president and founder of Summit Ridge Group, a firm that advises telecom, media and satellite companies.”
Musey attributes the high bids to the example T Mobile set in reusing spectrum to achieve high-speed internet access through a process called massive multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO), “a fancy term for reusing the same radio resources for many users in the same cell at the same time — and beamforming — focusing a wireless connection in a specific direction,” T Mobile said in a 2020 news release.
The FCC has not yet released the names of the winning telecommunications bidders.
“T Mobile has been very successful in getting massive performance out of the 2.5 gigahertz spectrum that they acquired with Sprint,” Musey told SpaceNews. “The rest of the industry realized that they needed mid-band spectrum as well.”
In addition to paying for C-band spectrum, winners of the C-band auction are scheduled to pay about $13 billion to compensate satellite operators for clearing spectrum on an accelerated timeline.
The race to clear C-band spectrum prompted communications fleet operators Intelsat and SES to order a combined 13 satellites in 2020. Eutelsat and Telesat are clearing C-band spectrum over the United States by moving capacity in their current fleets.
NASA ceases efforts to deploy Mars InSight heat flow probe
WASHINGTON — After nearly two years of struggles, NASA has abandoned efforts to deploy a heat flow probe on its InSight lander into the surface of Mars.
In a Jan. 14 statement, NASA said that a final effort to hammer the “mole” into the surface of Mars Jan. 9 failed to make any progress. The mole performed 500 hammer strokes, trying to drive itself into the surface, but remained in place just two to three centimeters below the surface.
“We’ve given it everything we’ve got, but Mars and our heroic mole remain incompatible,” said Tilman Spohn of the German space agency DLR, the principal investigator of what is formally known as the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), in a NASA statement.
HP3 was designed to burrow up to five meters deep into the surface, collecting data on the heat flow from the Martian interior. The lander placed the instrument package on the surface in early 2019, shortly after InSight landed on Mars in November 2018.
The probe, though, ran into problems soon after the hammering process began, when the mole stopped about 30 centimeters into the surface. Scientists first speculated that the probe had run into a rock or harder subsurface layer.
The instrument team later determined that the problem was with a lack of friction between the probe and the surrounding regolith, which caused the mole to rebound as it hammered, holding it in place. At times the mole appeared to partially back out of the hole.
Later efforts involved moving the instrument’s housing on the surface, revealing the mole sticking out of the hole. Spacecraft controllers used the scoop on the end of the lander’s robotic arm to press down on the mole to keep it from rebounding, tamp down regolith around the hole, and also to fill in the widening hole so the mole could gain more friction.
While those efforts were successful in getting the mole completely beneath the surface, and covered by a few centimeters of regolith, additional hammering efforts failed to make any progress, leading to the decision to leave the mole where it is. Project scientists concluded the soil at InSight’s landing site had different properties than that seen by other landers, which was used to guide the design the instrument.
“We are so proud of our team who worked hard to get InSight’s mole deeper into the planet. It was amazing to see them troubleshoot from millions of miles away,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, said in the statement. “This is why we take risks at NASA — we have to push the limits of technology to learn what works and what doesn’t.”
The decision to stop deploying the mole came less than a week after the agency announced it was extending InSight’s mission through the end of 2022. At the time NASA said that extended mission “may continue deployment (at low priority)” of the mole, but didn’t discuss how long those efforts would continue.
InSight’s other main instrument, a seismometer, continues to work well, measuring Martian quakes. “InSight’s extended mission will focus on producing a long-duration, high quality seismic dataset,” NASA said in its Jan. 8 announcement of the extended mission. With efforts to deploy the mole now over, the spacecraft will use its robotic arm to partially bury the cable between the seismometer and the lander, reducing thermal noise in its data.
InSight also has an instrument that collects weather data, which will continue to operate during the extended mission.
Despite the mole’s failure to burrow into the surface, NASA said it still provided useful engineering data that can be used for future missions that need to drill into the surface. While no such missions are in development now, NASA anticipates future missions, both robotic and human, using drills to probe beneath the surface, including to access subsurface ice deposits.
“Fortunately, we’ve learned a lot that will benefit future missions that attempt to dig into the subsurface,” Spohn said.
NASA’s huge moon rocket faces critical test-firing before first launch
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS & USED WITH PERMISSION
Editor’s Note: NASA TV’s live video coverage of the SLS hot fire test begins at 4:20 p.m. EST (2120 GMT) Saturday.
A critical test firing Saturday of the four main engines powering the first stage of NASA’s gargantuan Space Launch System moon rocket is the final major hurdle before the fully assembled booster’s costly, oft-delayed launch late this year on an unpiloted test flight.
Bolted in place atop the massive B-2 test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the upgraded Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 engines are scheduled to fire for a full eight minutes starting around 5 p.m. EST, the same duration needed for an actual flight.
Including shuttle flights and post-shuttle ground tests, RS-25 engines have been started more than 3,000 times to date and fired for more than 18,000 minutes all told, but never four at once and never with a rocket the size of the SLS. The goal is to test the stage’s performance as a whole under flight conditions.
“This will be our first test simultaneously firing all four RS-25 engines in this new Space Launch System configuration,” said Jeff Zotti, Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 program director. “We’re all looking forward to seeing the core stage of the world’s most powerful rocket fire up for the very first time.”
The flight version of the SLS will include two 17-story-tall Northrop Grumman solid-fuel strap-on boosters, each one generating 3.6 million pounds of thrust; the four RS-25s, generating a combined 1.6 million pounds of push; a hydrogen-fueled second stage; an Orion crew capsule and an emergency escape system.
The rocket will weigh 5.75 million pounds, stand 322 feet tall and generate 8.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, making it the most powerful operational rocket in the world and the most powerful U.S. rocket ever built. Even more powerful variants are planned by NASA for its Artemis moon program, pushing liftoff thrust to a staggering 9.5 million pounds.
For the so-called “green run” Saturday, the Boeing-managed SLS rocket’s 212-foot-tall, 27.6-foot-wide first stage will be tested as a fully operational booster, loaded with 537,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and 196,000 gallons of liquid oxygen for a planned 485-second test firing.
With the stage locked down on the test stand throughout, new state-of-the-art engine computers will throttle the main engines down to 95% thrust about a minute into the test. They will do the same during an actual flight to reduce stresses on the rocket when it passes through the region of maximum aerodynamic pressure.
The 7,775-pound engines, which earlier helped power 21 shuttle launches, also will hydraulically gimbal, or move to commanded positions at specified times, to verify their ability to precisely steer the rocket during the climb to space, both early in flight and later in the ascent.
The engine nozzles feature new insulation to protect them from the heat they will eventually experience from the nearby 5,000-degree solid rocket booster exhaust plumes.
Throughout the ground-shaking test, sensors will monitor other stresses and strains, temperatures, propellant flow rates, pressures and a variety of other parameters to make sure the rocket is ready for launch on the first Artemis moon mission late this year.
Equally important, the test will verify the performance of the rocket’s complex flight computer system and software along with pre-flight propellant management and safety systems.
“The test is scheduled for 485 seconds,” said Julie Bassler, SLS core stage manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “The stage is instrumented with over 1,400 sensors including pressure, temperature, accelerometers and strain gauges.”
“With this hot fire, there’s a lot of data, including how the avionics and software command and control will perform with the integrated core stage and engine propulsion system,” Bassler said, adding, “This green run test is the first time we fire up this core stage. So this is a huge milestone for us.”
Said Boeing SLS program manager John Shannon, a former space shuttle flight director: “This is the most heavily instrumented vehicle we will ever fly. So we’ll get a tremendous amount of engineering data.”
Assuming the green run test goes well and no major problems are encountered, NASA managers hope to ship the SLS stage by barge to the Kennedy Space Center in February.
Once there, the stage will be attached to two solid-fueled boosters currently being assembled, or “stacked,” on a mobile launch platform in the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building. The already complete upper stage will be mounted atop the core and the rocket will be topped off by a Lockheed Martin Orion crew capsule and its emergency escape system.
The assembled rocket and its launch platform then will be hauled to pad 39B by powerful crawler-transporter and prepared for flight. Unlike SpaceX rockets and others under development, the SLS is not reusable and the first stage booster and its engines will be destroyed when they fall back into the atmosphere after the climb to space.
NASA hopes to launch the rocket on its maiden flight late this year, sending the unpiloted Orion capsule on a flight 40,000 miles beyond the moon and back. What happens after that will depend in large part on how the Biden administration prioritizes space.
NASA currently is working to a Trump administration schedule that calls for the first piloted SLS-Orion flight — Artemis 2 — in 2023, followed by a moon landing using the third SLS rocket by the end of 2024.
But that schedule assumes funding to develop. The program has no from Congress, and it’s not yet known what level of support the Biden administration will provide.
For its part, the SLS team is optimistic the first Artemis rocket will be ready for launch before the end of the year.
“This powerful rocket is is going to put us in a position to be ready to support the agency and the country’s deep space mission to the moon and beyond,” said John Honeycutt, NASA SLS program manager at Marshall.
But it has been a rocky road.
Theand at least two years behind schedule. NASA’s inspector general reported last March that total SLS program costs were expected to climb above $18 billion by the time the Artemis 1 rocket finally takes off.
The delays and high costs have prompted debate about the need for the SLS to ferry astronauts to the moon given the availability of less powerful but much less expensive SpaceX Falcon Heavy rockets and other heavy-lift boosters now in development. But NASA managers say the SLS is the only rocket available in the near term that is capable of accommodating the Orion crew capsule and other large components envisioned for the Artemis program.
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