NASA PR — WASHINGTON — NASA has selected nine proposals to demonstrate new technologies for the second set of payloads to fly on commercial suborbital reusable launch vehicles and the Zero-G commercial parabolic aircraft. NASA is using commercially available vehicles to carry these technology demonstration payloads to help develop the U.S. commercial reusable suborbital transportation industry.
NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program provides test flights to demonstrate and validate space technologies on airborne platforms flying above 65,000 feet, the area known as “near space.” The program also supports parabolic flights that simulate brief periods of microgravity or weightlessness.
“We’re moving out with a set of payloads that can benefit from the proving ground of near space,” Mike Gazarik, director of NASA’s Space Technology Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington said. “We’re looking forward to increasing the number of commercial flights and technology demonstration payloads flown, with companies providing a viable reusable flying science lab capability for researchers from all across America.”
Sen. David Vitter PR – Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. David Vitter made the following statement congratulating NASA for choosing the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans East to construct components of its new heavy-lift rocket. Earlier this month, NASA unveiled the design of the rocket, and Vitter immediately urged NASA to choose Michoud for construction.
“NASA’s selection of Michoud is big, big news for southeast Louisiana,” Vitter said. “Michoud is the only NASA facility that is currently ready to do the large manufacturing that will be required for the heavy-lift rocket. I’ve been working for years with the Louisiana delegation to ensure Michoud remains well positioned for this kind of work, and with local companies in the high-tech Stennis-Michoud corridor to ensure the area remains a vital part of the space program.”
Pipistrel-USA.com received a check for $1.35 million this afternoon for winning the CAFE Green Flight Challenge, a NASA Centennial Challenge prize funded by Google for the demonstration of fuel-efficient aircraft.
eGenius, of Ramona, Calif., was awarded a second-place prize of $120,000. The team also won a $10,000 prize for the quietest aircraft in the competition. Erik Lindbergh, the grandson of Charles Lindbergh, presented the smaller prize, which was funded by Jean Schulz, the widow of Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. The competition was held at the Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, Calif.
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Aerojet, a GenCorp company, announced today that along with NASA and Orbital Sciences Corporation, the team conducted a successful ground test firing of an AJ26-62 flight engine that will power Orbital’s Taurus® II medium-class space launch vehicle. The test was conducted at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
NASA PR — HOUSTON — NASA last week completed the first in a series of flight-like parachute tests for the agency’s Orion spacecraft. The drop tests at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona support the design and development of the Orion parachute assembly.
Flying at an altitude of 25,000 feet, a drop-test article that mimicked the Orion parachute compartment was deployed from a C-130 aircraft. Once airborne, two drogue chutes were deployed at an altitude of 19,000 feet, followed by three pilot parachutes, which then deployed three main landing parachutes. The drop test article speed as it impacted the desert was approximately 25 feet per second.
The tests were the closest simulation so far to what the actual Orion parachute landing phase will be during a return from space.
Since 2007, the Orion program has tested the spacecraft’s parachutes and performed 20 drop tests. The program provided the chutes for NASA’s pad abort test in 2010 and performed numerous ground-based tests. Results from the previous experiences were incorporated into the parachute design used in this test.
Tea Party in Space White Paper Space Launch System Procurement Could Violate CICA September 2011
Subject: De Facto Sole Sourcing of Space Launch System Would Violate Law
Summary: A violation of 41 U.S.C. 253 (the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984) will occur if NASA moves ahead with a decision to avoid full and open competition by implementing “de facto sole source awards” on the Space Launch System, which will cost anywhere from $111 to $322 billion in taxpayer funds, and potentially much more.
WASHINGTON — NASA is releasing the initial version of a Global Exploration Roadmap (GER) developed by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group. This roadmap is the culmination of work by 12 space agencies, including NASA, during the past year to advance coordinated space exploration.
The GER begins with the International Space Station and expands human presence throughout the solar system, leading ultimately to crewed missions to explore the surface of Mars.
The roadmap identifies two potential pathways: “Asteroid Next” and “Moon Next.” Each pathway represents a mission scenario that covers a 25-year period with a logical sequence of robotic and human missions. Both pathways were deemed practical approaches to address common high-level exploration goals developed by the participating agencies, recognizing that individual preferences among them may vary.
California Rep. Tom McClintock is asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate NASA’s plans to use existing contractors for the Space Launch System instead of competitive bidding.
“I have serious concerns with NASA’s attempt to avoid holding a full and open competition to acquire the SLS,” McClintock wrote. “NASA is considering modifying and/or extending existing contracts for retired or cancelled programs resulting in one or more ‘de facto sole source awards.’ Some of those contracts were originally awarded on a sole source basis.
WASHINGTON — NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, agency procurement officials, and Space Launch System Program managers will meet with contractors and small-business entrepreneurs Sept. 29 for the Space Launch System Industry Day at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration in Huntsville, Ala.
NASA will brief industry representatives on the agency’s acquisition strategy for the Space Launch System program and provide an overview of the program, its organization and specific vehicle requirements. The event takes place from 7:55 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. CDT during the Marshall Space Flight Center’s quarterly Small Business Alliance Meeting. It will provide small business leaders a forum to discuss opportunities with representatives of NASA and large prime contractors.
Marshall is leading design and development of the Space Launch System for NASA. The new heavy-lift launch vehicle will take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new exploration missions across the solar system. The first full-scale SLS test flight is targeted for 2017.
NASA Industry Day speakers will include Garver; Marshall Center Director Robert Lightfoot; Glenn Delgado, associate administrator of NASA’s Office of Small Business Programs in Washington; Todd May, director of NASA’s Space Launch System Program Office; Kim Whitson, deputy director of Marshall’s Office of Procurement; and Earl Pendley, manager of the Space Transportation Support Office in Marshall’s Office of Procurement.
NASA PR — WASHINGTON — NASA is accepting applications from teams of U.S. and international undergraduate and graduate students for the third annual Lunabotics Mining Competition. The event will be at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida May 21-26, 2012.
Participants in the competition will design and build a remote controlled or autonomous robot, which could be used for future exploration on the moon. During the competition, the teams’ designs, known as lunabots, will go head-to-head to determine which one can excavate and deposit the most simulated lunar dirt within 10 minutes.
Students must submit applications, including a systems engineering paper and an educational outreach project, by Nov. 30. Registration is limited to one team for each university campus and 10 teams per country.
The competition is designed to engage and retain students in the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, disciplines critical to NASA’s missions.
Virginians are pushing back against efforts by Florida to maintain its monopoly on human spaceflight missions. Jack Kennedy, a prominent backer of commercial space in Virginia, sent the following email to supporters on Saturday:
“Space Florida is getting really aggressive and negative to the possibility of human commercial space launch from Wallops Island, Virginia.
“I strongly urge you to communicate with Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Congressman Frank Wolf and Senator Mark Warner, in particular. ASK that they call upon Boeing to openly pledge to launch the Atlas-V from Virginia under the NASA Commercial Crew program by 2015.
“Your e-Mail, letter, and/or phone call to these three Congressional offices may go a long way to make human space flight from Virginia a reality (especially in the wake of the Florida push back against Virginia’s spaceport).
NASA PR — WASHINGTON — NASA has selected The Cleantech Open of Redwood, Calif., to manage the agency’s Night Rover Challenge that will culminate in a competition in fall 2012. The event is a new Centennial Challenges prize competition seeking revolutionary energy storage technologies for future space robotic rover missions. NASA is offering a prize purse of $1.5 million to challenge winners.
The Night Rover Challenge is to demonstrate solar energy collection and storage systems suitable for rovers to operate through several cycles of daylight and darkness. During daylight, systems can collect photons or thermal energy from the sun. During darkness, the stored energy would be used to move the rover toward a destination and to continue its exploration work.
NASA PR — WASHINGTON — NASA and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass., are seeking teams to compete in a robot technology demonstration competition with a potential $1.5 million prize.
During the Sample Return Robot Challenge, teams will compete to demonstrate a robot that can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain without human control. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies. Innovations stemming from this challenge may improve NASA’s capability to explore a variety of destinations in space, as well as enhance the nation’s robotic technology for use in industries and applications on Earth.