Astronauts of the Corn: A-maze-ing Way to Honor NASA’s Achievements


On Saturday, I drove out to the Dell’Osso Family Farm in Lathrop, Calif., to see this amazing maze they had cut into their cornfield to honor the 50th anniversary of NASA’s human spaceflight program. There are seven mazes across the country; this one focuses on the space agency’s Kepler planet finding spacecraft, which is run by the nearby NASA Ames Research Center.

NASA Ames officials were out on Saturday for the opening day. Dr. John Hogan talked about how to sustain life in space using regenerative life support systems. And Drs. Steve Bryson and Steve Howell did 40-minute presentations about the Kepler mission. (more…)

Video: John Cumbers Talks Synthetic Biology

NASA Ames Director Pete Worden calls synthetic biology one of the most crucial fields required for humans to live off planet Earth. But what is synthetic biology? And what can it do for us? John Cumbers of the NASA Ames Synthetic Biology Innovation Laboratory explains in this exclusive video.

As Hangar One Work Begins, House Cuts Restoration Funding


Workers have begun to strip off the PCB-laden siding from the long shuttered Hangar One at Moffett Field. The work is being funded by the U.S. Navy, which used to control the facility before NASA took over.

The bad news is that the $32.8 million required to put new siding on the massive structure was cut in the House of Representatives budget for NASA.The move came after a report from the Office of Inspector General questioning whether NASA should spend scarce funds on restoring the structure.

The deletion of the funds has raised the possibility that a skeletal Hangar One could sit for years exposed to the elements — or be torn down all together. Preservationists want to save the historic hangar, which once housed the massive U.S. Navy airship Macon. NASA would like to use the restored structure to house modern airships. Supporters are working to restore the funding and exploring other options.

TEDxNASA Event Coming to San Francisco

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA is inviting reporters and the public to join agency leaders, technologists and innovators from a variety of fields at TEDxNASA@SiliconValley 2011 on Aug. 17. The event will be held at the Marriott Marquis hotel in San Francisco from 2:30 to 8:30 p.m. PDT.

The event is in the spirit of the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conferences that bring together leading thinkers to create a dialogue about important global challenges. Speakers include an aeronautics researcher developing a silent, carbonless airplane; a tree geneticist cloning the world’s largest trees; a fish-loving researcher creating the next biofuel from a salt-loving succulent; a computer that beats Jeopardy! Champions; and a Tony-winning street theater company. Each presentation on the theme “Extreme Green” will last 18 minutes or less.

(more…)

Watchdog Group Questions Google Use of Moffett Field

A P3 Navy aircraft with Hangar One at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. (Copyright 2009: Douglas Messier)

A consumer watchdog group called (of all things) Consumer Watchdog has issued a report focusing on Google’s allegedly close relationship with the federal government. One of the issues they have raised involves Google’s $1.3 million per year lease of space at Moffett Field, which is under the control of NASA Ames:

One of the most visible signs of Google’s clout, the report said, is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Moffett Airfield, near Google’s world headquarters. When a deal between NASA and top Google executives to use the base was first disclosed in 2007, it called for only four jets to use the base.

But newly released government records show that the Google executive fleet has now grown to six jets and two helicopters, while at least 40 Google employees hold security badges at the base and all of the planes are supplied with Department of Defense jet fuel.

(more…)

New Airship Headed for NASA Ames

E-Green Technologies Bullet 580 Airship (Credit: E-Green Technologies)

For anyone in Silicon Valley who has ever looked into the sky in wonder, annoyance or vague fear as the Zeppelin NT puttered noisily overhead, you’re in luck (or out of it): another airship  is coming to NASA Ames early next year.

NASA has entered into a lease with E-Green Technologies, Inc. (EGT) Kellyton, Ala., to bring the world’s largest airship to NASA Research Park at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Under the terms of the three-year lease that begins Jan. 1, 2011, NASA will lease approximately 24,000 square feet of hangar space in historic Hangar 2 for EGT/21st Century Airships to develop and test its Bullet™ Class 580, the world’s largest operating airship. The massive 235-foot long/65-foot diameter lighter-than-air vehicle is designed to fly on algae-based bio-fuel at speeds up to 74 mph, at altitudes up to 20,000 feet. The Bullet™ Class 580 is scheduled to arrive in early 2011, after successfully completing its third and final inflation and other engineering tests.

(more…)

NASA Lunar Science Institute Becoming Global Center for Moon Research

The NASA Lunar Science Institute at Ames is gradually becoming a global center for the study of Earth’s closest celestial neighbor. NASA recently announced a new partnership with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) that involves more than 30 organizations across that nation (see press release after the break). The Institute also has established the following partnerships:

  • Canadian Lunar Research Network (CLRN)
  • Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
  • Open University (United Kingdom)
  • King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology (KACST) — Saudi Arabia
  • Ben-Gurion University at the Negev (Israel)
  • VU University Amsterdam.

(more…)

NASA Ames, Alaska to Collaborate on Small Sats, Advanced Space Exploration and Aviation

A P3 Navy aircraft with Hangar One at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. (Copyright 2008: Douglas Messier)

NASA PRESS RELEASE
Nov. 19, 2010

NASA and the State of Alaska agreed today to collaborate in a variety of activities of mutual interest involving small satellite development, advanced aviation, space exploration, education and science.

During a ceremony held at the Alaska Aerospace Corporation’s (AAC) Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska, NASA’s Ames Research Center Director S. Pete Worden and Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development Curtis Thayer signed a three-year non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement establishing a partnership for space exploration, scientific research and education initiatives in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM.

(more…)

NASA Moves to Save Iconic Hangar One

A P3 Navy aircraft with Hangar One at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. (Copyright 2008: Douglas Messier)

NASA commits $20 million to save Hangar One
Santa Cruz Sentinel

Hangar One’s future is finally looking bright — provided Congress cooperates.

NASA has committed to spending $20 million to restore the South Bay landmark at Moffett Field, NASA Ames Director of Center Operations Deb Feng announced Thursday at a Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board meeting.

(more…)

NASA Pulls X-34 Hypersonic Test Vehicles Out of Storage

Absent their vertical tails, the two X-34 aircraft were convoyed from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center to the north gate of Edwards Air Force Base via Rosamond Boulevard Tuesday morning, and then overnight on Highway 58 to the Mojave Air and Spaceport Wednesday. (Credit: NASA Dryden/Tony Landis)

NASA PROGRAM UPDATE

The two X-34 hypersonic research aircraft developed by Orbital Sciences Corp. to serve as flight demonstrators for a NASA rocket engine technology development program in the mid-1990s were transported overland via truck from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base to the Mojave Air and Spaceport Nov. 16-17. The two technology demonstrators will be stored temporarily at a hangar operated by the National Test Pilot School while undergoing inspections by Orbital Sciences personnel to determine if they are viable for flight.

(more…)

NASA Ames Hiring Research Fellows for Synthetic Biology Lab

A P3 Navy aircraft with Hangar One at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. (Copyright 2009: Douglas Messier)

NASA AMES RESEARCH CENTER
Synthetic Biology Innovation Laboratory

NASA Ames Research Center has an established track record in biotechnology and fundamental biology research, with applications in astrobiology, radiation biology, biosensors, biofuels, bionanotechnology, human health, and bioregenerative life support. Ames is seeking to infuse synthetic biology into these and other applications.

Two positions are available for Research Fellows in the newly established Synthetic Biology Innovation Laboratory, a cross-disciplinary research group formed to create new technologies that meet NASA needs.

(more…)

Minotaur IV Set to Launch FASTSAT, NanoSail-D into Space on Friday Night

A Minotaur IV rocket is set to launch a set of innovative nanosats from the Kodiak Launch Complex on Friday evening. The launch is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 19, at 7:24 p.m. CST. The launch can be viewed on the web at this page, http://www.nasa.gov/fastsat, on Friday, Nov. 19, starting at 7 p.m. CST.

Below are NASA’s descriptions of three of the satellites to be launched: FASTSAT, NanoSail-D, and O/OREOS.

NASA’s FASTSAT (Credit: NASA)

FASTSAT

NASA’s Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, or FASTSAT, will carry six small payloads to low Earth orbit, demonstrating a critical ability to provide low-cost and rapid response opportunities for scientific and technical payloads to get to space. FASTSAT is NASA’s first microsatellite designed to create a capability that increases opportunities for secondary, scientific and technology payloads, or rideshares, to be flown at lower cost than previously possible. It serves as a bus or platform that puts scientific research on the affordable fast track for governmental, academic and industry researchers.

The FASTSAT mission is a joint activity between NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program. The satellite was designed, developed and tested at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., in partnership with the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation and Dynetics Inc. of Huntsville.

(more…)

DARPA, NASA Working on $1.1 Million Starship Project

An interesting — if sketchy — report from the website of futurist Ray Kurweil about a joint DARPA-NASA project on interstellar travel:

NASA Ames Director Simon “Pete” Worden revealed Saturday that NASA Ames has “just started a project with DARPA called the Hundred Year Starship,” with $1 million funding from DARPA and $100K from NASA.

(more…)

NASA’s LCROSS Wins Breakthrough Award

The plume created by the LCROSS impact on the moon on Oct. 9, 2009.(Credit: NASA)

NASA PRESS RELEASE

NASA’s Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, mission has won Popular Mechanics magazine’s 2010 Breakthrough Award for innovation in science and technology.

The sixth annual Breakthrough Awards recognize innovators and products poised to change the world in fields such as technology, medicine, aviation and environmental engineering. Honorees will be celebrated during a ceremony tonight at Hearst Tower in New York City.

(more…)