NASA Earth Science chiefs are excited about the potential for principal researchers to take advantage of existing and expected low-cost launch alternatives. Citing to the space agency’s campaign to spur the development of small rockets by purchasing future flights under fixed-price deals, Sandra Cauffman, Acting Division Director of NASA Earth Science, stated that the VCLS (Venture Class Launch Services) have started to bear fruit. Rocket Lab Electron is a potential alternative in the coming age for the Earth surveillance CubeSats and small satellites expecting rides to orbit. The launch market has transformed dramatically in the last couple of years with innovative rockets coming online and companies expanding rideshare opportunities.

Charles Webb, Associate Director for Flight Programs at NASA (Earth Sciences Division), said that the space agency is exploring for “competent ways we can involve with industry.” He stated that these ways will include the LSP (Launch Services Program) and will openly connect with the suppliers to ensure we offer affordable options for Earth Ventures. “We have done business in a particular way for a long time. We want to be cautious to ensure any modifications are thought-through before we conclude something,” Webb added.

Similarly, NASA was in news as the space agency treasured maps for water ice on Mars. The agency has big plans for taking astronauts to the Moon in 2024, which is a stepping stone on the track to send humans to Mars. A new paper released in the journal Geophysical Research Letters will aid researchers by providing a map of water ice, which is believed to be very small below the surface. Water ice is a key consideration for any possible landing location. NASA called this idea “in situ resource utilization” and it is a significant factor in choosing human landing sites on Mars.