Parabolic Arc Space Tourism ... and Much More 2017-04-29T18:49:00Z http://www.parabolicarc.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[PBS and American Experience Announce Chasing the Moon Documentary]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61422 2017-04-29T18:49:00Z 2017-04-29T18:49:00Z
Apollo 11 astronauts trained on Earth to take individual photographs in succession in order to create a series of frames that could be assembled into panoramic images. This frame from Aldrin’s panorama of the Apollo 11 landing site is the only good picture of mission commander Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

BOSTON (PBS PR) — American Experience today announced Chasing the Moon, a four-hour documentary series about the space race, from its earliest beginnings to the monumental achievement of the first lunar landing in 1969 and beyond. Premiering on PBS in 2019 during the 50th anniversary year of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the series is executive produced by Mark Samels and produced and directed by Robert Stone. Chasing the Moon is Stone’s eighth project for American Experience. Distribution outside the U.S. will be handled by PBS International. Ballantine Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, will publish the book Chasing the Moon, by Stone and writer/researcher Alan Andres, to coincide with the PBS premiere. The book will include and expand on the stories shared in the documentary.

Chasing the Moon thoroughly reimagines the race to the moon for a new generation, upending much of the conventional mythology surrounding the effort. The four-part series recasts the Space Age as a fascinating stew of scientific innovation, political calculation, media spectacle, visionary impulses and personal drama. Utilizing a visual feast of previously overlooked and lost archival material, much of which has never before been seen by the public, the film features a diverse cast of characters who played key roles in these historic events. Among those included are astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Frank Borman and Bill Anders; Sergei Khrushchev, son of the former Soviet premier and a leading Soviet rocket engineer; Poppy Northcutt, a 25-year old “mathematics whiz” who gained worldwide attention as the first woman to serve in the all-male bastion of NASA’s Mission Control; and Ed Dwight, the Air Force pilot selected by the Kennedy administration to train as America’s first black astronaut.

“When we think of that breathtaking moment of the 1969 moon landing, we forget what a turbulent time that was,” said Mark Samels, American Experience executive producer. “The country was dealing with huge problems — Vietnam, poverty, race riots — and there was a lot of skepticism about the space program. Chasing the Moon explores the unbelievably complex challenges that NASA was able to overcome. Not a week goes by when someone doesn’t say, ‘Why can’t we do something today as ambitious, as grand as putting a man on the moon?’ It was a century-defining achievement, and our film tells a familiar story in an entirely new way.”

“American Experience continues to create compelling and powerful miniseries that tell the story of our nation and remind us of who we are,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “From ‘The Great War’ to ‘JFK’ to ‘Disney,’ these high-quality programs are embraced by PBS viewers and live on as top-drawer entertainment and a valuable resource for future generations.”

“I’m thrilled to be working again with American Experience and PBS on this project which is so close to my heart,” said Stone. “This film has been gestating in the back of my mind for over 25 years. It is by far the biggest project I’ve ever done.”

Robert Stone is a multi-award-winning, Oscar-nominated and Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker. Born in England, he grew up in both Europe and America. After graduating with a degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he moved to New York City in 1983 to pursue a career in filmmaking. He gained considerable recognition for his first film, Radio Bikini (1987), which premiered at Sundance, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary and was the first of his seven films to premiere on American Experience. His best-known work includes Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst (2004), which premiered at Sundance and went on to become one of the most highly acclaimed theatrical documentaries of the year. That was followed by the documentary feature Oswald’s Ghost (2007), for which Stone earned a second Emmy nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Filmmaking. Earth Days premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically to wide critical acclaim. His most recent film, Pandora’s Promise, premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, won the prestigious Green Award at the Sheffield Documentary Film Festival, and was broadcast on CNN in 2013. In addition to Radio Bikini, Guerrilla, Oswald’s Ghost and Earth Days, Stone also produced The Satellite Sky, Civilian Conservation Corps and Cold War Roadshow for American Experience.

As executive producer of PBS’ flagship history series, Mark Samels conceives, commissions and oversees all American Experience films. Samels has overseen more than 130 films, expanding both the breadth of subjects and the filmmaking style embraced by the series, allowing for more contemporary topics and more witness-driven storytelling. Beginning his career as an independent documentary filmmaker, he held production executive positions at public television stations in West Virginia and Pennsylvania before joining WGBH. Samels is a founding member of the International Documentary Association and has served as a governor of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Samels holds honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Emerson College and Elizabethtown College.

About American Experience

For more than 28 years, American Experience has been television’s most-watched history series. The series has been hailed as “peerless” (The Wall Street Journal), “the most consistently enriching program on television” (Chicago Tribune) and “a beacon of intelligence and purpose” (Houston Chronicle). On air and online, the series brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that have shaped America’s past and present. Acclaimed by viewers and critics alike, American Experience documentaries have been honored with every major broadcast award, including 30 Emmy Awards, four duPont-Columbia Awards and 17 George Foster Peabody Awards; the series received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Documentary Feature in 2015 for Last Days in Vietnam. Visit pbs.org/americanexperience and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to learn more.

Exclusive corporate funding for American Experience provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance. Major funding provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers. American Experience is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston.

About PBS

PBS, with nearly 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 100 million people through television and nearly 28 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’ premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a new 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on TwitterFacebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

]]>
17
Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[Pioneer Astronautics Selected for NASA Small Business Award]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61367 2017-04-28T15:54:21Z 2017-04-29T12:51:56Z Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics has been selected for a NASA small business award to begin development of a system to extract soil from martian soil.

“The Advanced Mars Water Acquisition System (AMWAS) recovers and purifies water from Mars soils for oxygen and fuel production, life support, food production, and radiation shielding in support of human exploration missions,” the proposal states. “The AMWAS removes water from Mars soils using hot, recirculating carbon dioxide gas to provide rapid heat transfer. The AMWAS evaporates water from ice and salt hydrates, leaving dissolved contaminants in the soil residue.”

The proposal was selected for a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I award. The contract is worth a maximum of $125,000 over six months.

A summary of the proposal follows.

Proposal Title: Advanced Mars Water Acquisition System
Subtopic Title: Mars Soil Acquisition and Processing for In Situ Water

Small Business Concern
Pioneer Astronautics
Lakewood, CO

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Mark Berggren
Lakewood, CO

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technical Abstract

The Advanced Mars Water Acquisition System (AMWAS) recovers and purifies water from Mars soils for oxygen and fuel production, life support, food production, and radiation shielding in support of human exploration missions. The AMWAS removes water from Mars soils using hot, recirculating carbon dioxide gas to provide rapid heat transfer. The AMWAS evaporates water from ice and salt hydrates, leaving dissolved contaminants in the soil residue. The water distilled from the extraction vessel is condensed, treated with activated carbon to remove residual volatiles and organic material, filtered to remove suspended solids, and subjected to deionization in preparation for proton exchange membrane electrolysis.

Recuperative heat exchange is employed to minimize heat losses from recirculating carbon dioxide gas. Cold temperatures of the Mars atmosphere are used to facilitate condensation and separation of water from recycled carbon dioxide gas. A vacuum jacket is used to minimize heat losses from the extraction vessel. Much of the net heat input to the AMWAS can be supplied by solar concentrators or waste heat from radioisotope thermoelectric generators. The AMWAS vessel is equipped with a single, stationary seal that facilitates materials handling automation and minimizes potential leakage over the nominal operating period of up to 480 days.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

The primary application of AMWAS is for production of clean water from Mars soils for electrolysis, fuel and oxygen production, food production, and radiation shielding. The AMWAS can provide a reliable, low-cost, low-mass technology to produce water, hydrogen, and liquid oxygen on the surface of Mars out of indigenous materials at low power. The ability to extract water from Mars could also serve to supply the crew of Mars missions with water, which is the second most massive logistic component of a Mars mission. Smaller versions of the AMWAS could be used to help make the return propellant for a Mars sample return mission on the Martian surface, thereby making such a mission both cheaper to launch and much easier to land.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

The AMWAS could be implemented in arid terrestrial climates for recovery of water from soils. Even in the driest regions of Earth, the regolith is several times wetter than on Mars, and the AMWAS can operate efficiently under those conditions. Regions that are too far from the coastline to economically pipe water may be potential markets. Units sized for vehicles traveling in desert regions could reduce logistical requirements for the military and civilians operating in remote areas, since it is very lightweight, cheap, and portable. By enabling agriculture in arid areas the AMWAS could also support the production of renewable energy in the form of biofuels.

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • In Situ Manufacturing
  • Models & Simulations (see also Testing & Evaluation)
  • Processing Methods
  • Prototyping
  • Resource Extraction

Save

]]>
2
Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[NIAC Phase I Award: Solar Surfing]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61243 2017-04-14T22:13:36Z 2017-04-29T10:13:11Z
Solar Surfing (Credit: Robert Youngquist)

Solar Surfing

Robert Youngquist
NASA Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Value: Approximately $125,000
Length of Study: 9 months

Description

We propose to develop a novel high temperature coating that will reflect up to 99.9 % of the Sun’s total irradiance, roughly a factor of 80 times better than the current state-of-the-art. This will be accomplished by leveraging off of our low temperature coating, currently being developed under NIAC funding.

We will modify our existing models to determine an optimal high temperature solar reflector, predict its performance, and construct a prototype version of this coating. This prototype will be sent to our partner at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory where it will be tested in an 11 times solar simulator.

The results of this modeling/testing will be used to design a mission to the Sun, where we hope to come to within one solar radius of the Sun’s surface, 8 times closer than the closest distance planned for the upcoming Solar Probe Plus. This project will substantially advance the current capabilities of solar thermal protection systems, not only potentially allowing “Solar Surfing”, but allowing better thermal control of a future mission to Mercury.

Full List of 2017 NIAC Awards

Save

Save

Save

Save

]]>
4
Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[Elon Musk’s Boring Company Releases Concept Video]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61421 2017-04-29T07:23:49Z 2017-04-29T07:23:49Z ]]> 10 Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[Astrobotic Selected for NASA Small Business Award to Develop Lunar CubeRover]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61365 2017-04-24T15:53:47Z 2017-04-28T22:00:12Z
Astrobotic Technology has been selected for a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract to develop a new class of rover to evaluate conditions on the lunar surface.

“The proposed innovation is a Lunar CubeRover specialized as a 2 kg payload to evaluate lander ejecta and to characterize small-rover trafficability,” the proposal states. “This CubeRover and its roles are specific to the RFP though broadly more general and impactful for exploration enterprise.

“The proposal offers the prospect for standardization, democratization and broad applicability of CubeRover analogous to the way that CubeSats transformed the domain of Earth orbit and SmallSat enterprise,” the proposal adds.

SBIR Phase I awards are worth a maximum of $125,000 over six months.

A summary of the selected proposal follows.

Proposal Title: CubeRover for Lunar Resource Site Evaluation
Subtopic Title: Lunar Resources

Small Business Concern
Astrobotic Technology, Inc.
Pittsburgh, PA

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Dr. Andrew Horchler
Pittsburgh, PA

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 5

Technical Abstract

The proposed innovation is a Lunar CubeRover specialized as a 2 kg payload to evaluate lander ejecta and to characterize small-rover trafficability. This CubeRover and its roles are specific to the RFP though broadly more general and impactful for exploration enterprise.

The proposal offers the prospect for standardization, democratization and broad applicability of CubeRover analogous to the way that CubeSats transformed the domain of Earth orbit and SmallSat enterprise.

For the specific context of this proposal, CubeRover is specialized to address III-C-2 In-situ Lunar Surface Trafficability (topic III-C-2) and Descent Engine Blast Ejecta Phenomena (topic III-D-4).

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

CubeRover opens the prospect for a class of light, affordable, frequent and standardized planetary surface deployments. This is transformational in its own right.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

A substantial commercial movement is evolving to layer robotics over hobby-grade remote control. This is a high demand for the automation capabilities that are proposed here using minimal assets like fixed monocular camera, limited computing and small-scale, low-powered platforms. The terrain modeling is highly relevant to non-NASA applications as encountered in nuclear waste cleanup,

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Robotics (see also Control & Monitoring; Sensors)
  • Vehicles (see also Autonomous Systems)

Save

]]>
1
Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[Chinese Space Station Construction Start Slips to 2019 as Refueling Test Succeeds]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61418 2017-04-28T19:03:51Z 2017-04-28T19:03:51Z China will begin constructing a permanent space station in orbit beginning in 2019, which is a delay from the original 2018 start date. The announcement follows the successful refueling of the Tiangong-2 temporary station by the Tianzhou-1 supply ship.

The successful five-day refueling, directed from technicians on Earth and completed on Thursday, is a key milestone toward China’s plans to begin sending crews to a permanent space station by 2022.

“This again announces the ambition and aspiration of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people, and our resolute confidence in becoming a major space power,” the space station project’s supervisor Wang Zhaoyao told a news briefing in Beijing.

“After completing experimental stage spaceflight missions, we will enter the development and construction phase. According to our plans we will carry out the assembly and construction of China’s manned space station between 2019 and 2022.”

Read the full story.

]]>
5
Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[CSA to Provide $200K for Student CubeSats]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61414 2017-04-28T18:52:31Z 2017-04-28T18:55:20Z LONGUEUIL, Quebec, April 27, 2017 (CSA PR) — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) plans to award 13 grants of about $200,000 to post-secondary institutions as part of a challenge to design, build, launch and operate their own satellites. This initiative will help equip young Canadians with the skills and experience needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

The CSA’s Canadian CubeSat Project will support proposals representing each province and territory. The winning teams, composed of professors and students, will take part in a real space mission by designing and building a miniature satellite called a CubeSat. This unique, hands-on experience will enable students to acquire expertise in a wide variety of areas—ranging from science, to engineering, to communicating their work with the public—and give them the opportunity to develop invaluable skills to transition into the workforce in the global innovation economy.

Once tested and ready for space, the CubeSats will be launched and deployed from the International Space Station. The teams will then operate their satellites and conduct science according to the objectives of their missions, which could last up to 12 months.

Throughout the challenge, CSA experts will guide members of the teams and help support mission success.

Quotes

“This is an out-of-this world opportunity for talented young Canadians to take part in a real space mission. We want to attract the best and brightest college and university students from across Canada who are interested in leveraging space to push boundaries, innovate, and advance science excellence. The Canadian Space Agency will provide them with the opportunity to become Canada’s next space innovation leaders.”

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Quick Facts

  • A Call for Letters of Interest to inform professors of the Canadian CubeSat Project is posted on the CSA’s website.
  • The CSA will make arrangements for the launch of the CubeSats and cover the associated costs.
  • The CubeSats are planned to be deployed in two separate groups in 2020 and 2021.
  • As its name suggests, a CubeSat is a tiny, cube-shaped satellite measuring 10 cm on each side.

Associated Links

Save

]]>
0
Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[SpaceX to Launch Reconnaissance Satellite on Sunday]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61413 2017-04-28T15:39:30Z 2017-04-28T15:39:30Z
The U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing supported SpaceX’s successful launch of the EchoStar XXIII spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center March 16 at 2 a.m. EDT. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) –Today SpaceX confirmed that the company is targeting the launch of NROL-76 aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The two hour launch window opens on Sunday, April 30, at 7:00 a.m. EDT.

If needed, a two hour backup launch window opens on Monday, May 1, at 7:00 a.m. EDT.

In addition to the primary mission of NROL-76 to orbit, SpaceX is attempting the secondary mission of landing the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Landing Zone 1. SpaceX has landed a first stage booster at Landing Zone 1 three times prior to this mission. SpaceX has successfully recovered Falcon 9 first stages from six missions at sea using the company’s Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ships. Landing Zone 1 is built on the former site of Space Launch Complex 13, a U.S. Air Force rocket and missile testing range.

As with the return of the first stage from the CRS-10 mission, there is the possibility that residents of Brevard, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia counties may hear one or more sonic booms during the landing attempt. Residents of Brevard County are most likely to hear a sonic boom, although what residents experience will depend on weather conditions and other factors. A sonic boom is a brief thunder-like noise a person on the ground hears when an aircraft or other vehicle flies overhead faster than the speed of sound.

Residents may wish to follow the company’s launch webcast for real time information concerning Monday’s launch. The webcast will be available at SpaceX.com/webcast beginning at approximately 6:45 a.m. ET on April 30.

About SpaceX

SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk to revolutionize space transportation, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. Today, SpaceX is advancing the boundaries of space technology through its Falcon launch vehicles and Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Valor Equity Partners, Google and Fidelity. The company has more than 5,000 employees in California, Texas, Washington, D.C., Washington State and Florida. For more information, visit www.spacex.com.

]]>
1
Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[Canada Announces $80.9 Million Investment in Space Industry]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61412 2017-04-28T15:27:20Z 2017-04-28T15:27:20Z SAINT-HUBERT, Quebec, April 27, 2017 (Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada PR) — Canada’s space sector develops new technologies that have the potential to advance scientific discovery and improve the lives of Canadians.

This is why Budget 2017 proposes to provide $80.9 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, to the Canadian Space Agency. These investments will be used to develop emerging technologies, will create more well-paying jobs, will support scientific breakthroughs and will make Canada a world-leading centre for innovation.

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, was joined by the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport and the first Canadian in space, to celebrate the proposed funding at the Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters outside Montréal.

The funding will support new projects that will demonstrate and utilize Canadian innovations in space:

  • A radar instrument that will be developed for a future orbiter mission to Mars. This instrument would be used to study the surface and subsurface of the red planet. It could contribute to developing a high-resolution map of the surface of Mars and could help identify water resources at shallow depths, which would provide critical geological information for the landing site of future spacecraft to Mars.
  • A demonstration of the applications of quantum technology in space involving the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo. This project will position Canada as a leader in quantum encryption, which uses highly advanced computing technology to create virtually unbreakable security codes. This technology could lead to more secure communications, safer and more reliable government services, and greater protection of Canadians’ privacy.

In addition to the increased funding it announced in the budget, the Government of Canada recently announced the renewal of the Space Advisory Board. The board will engage with Canadians to develop a new vision for Canada’s space sector and define key elements of a strategy that will be launched this summer. The advisory board’s input will inform the strategy, which will focus on using space to drive broader economic growth and innovation, while inspiring the next generation of space scientists.

Quotes

“The space program advances next-generation technologies that create new opportunities for the sector and well-paying jobs for the middle class. The proposed funding in Budget 2017 will support research and development in emerging fields such as quantum technology and advanced radar technology for Earth observation. The technologies that are designed for space today can one day be applied to the everyday lives of Canadians. That means an investment in today’s space sector is an investment in a higher standard of living tomorrow.”

– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“As a former astronaut, I know the importance of innovation in the space sector. The funding proposed in Budget 2017 will help cement Canada’s position as a trusted partner in the space community and will help the Canadian Space Agency look to the future of space exploration as a source for Canadian innovation and scientific excellence.”

– The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

Quick Facts

  • The Canadian space sector employs more than 10,000 people. In 2014, the sector generated $5.4 billion in revenue.
  • In 2014, the sector contributed more than $146 million to research and development projects that resulted in promising new technologies.

Associated Links

]]>
3
Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[NSS to Send Students Experiments to Space with EXOS Aerospace]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61409 2017-04-28T15:21:04Z 2017-04-28T15:21:03Z
Students from Andrew Goodin’s Building Creative Confidence class at Grand Center Arts Academy, along with the 3D-printed capsule and their experiments. (Credit: NSS)

WASHINGTON, DC, April 27, 2017 (NSS PR) — Enterprise In Space (EIS), a non-profit program of the National Space Society (NSS) will soon launch several experiments into space aboard a suborbital flight using reusable rocket technology.

As a demonstration of EIS’ NewSpace education program, the experiments draw from the different areas of the educational spectrum, middle school education and postgraduate research. In partnership with EIS’ higher education-focused Enterprise Centers for Excellence program, the Center for Applied Space Technology (CAST) has designed a biological microgravity experiment for postgraduate research into space medicine. Using a Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) 100, featuring nine petri dishes, CAST believes its experiment will have both terrestrial applications and uses during long-duration space flight.

Within the broader EIS Academy, EIS worked with Andrew Goodin’s Building Creative Confidence class at Grand Center Arts Academy to design an entry-level experiment that introduces middle school students to lessons in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) education. These include experiments related to such things as using the heat of space to melt crayons into space art and determining the effects of the space environment on maple tree seeds that will be grown back on Earth when returned from space.

To house the experiments, Goodin’s class had to quickly produce a 3D-printed container that met the criteria of EXOS’ SARGE launch vehicle. The class was able to rapidly 3D print the special-made cube housing using the school’s Ultimaker 3D printer before putting the container through a drop test to ensure that it would survive the spacecraft’s journey into suborbital space. This team of 24 students operated at a space race pace. From concept to payload delivery took the team less than two months. The experiment will be launched in late May.

Experiments designed by Andrew Goodin’s Building Creative Confidence class at Grand Center Arts Academy, along with the 3D-printed capsule in which they will be stored. Experiments include: crayons that will melt to form space art, popcorn that will pop in the heat of space and sticky notes, to determine if the space environment reduces their adhesion. (Credit: NSS)

“Reusable rocket technology makes it possible to cut the launch waiting period for a payload dramatically, while also reducing costs,” said EXOS Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer John Quinn. “This lowers the barriers for the types of NewSpace education experiments made possible by EIS.”

The results of the biological experiment will be published online in the Enterprise Center for Excellence for Regenerative Medicine for Long Duration Space Flight, where university through postgraduate students in the EIS Academy will have access to the material to advance their education. Additionally, EXOS will work with EIS to create an educational K-12 curriculum for the EIS Academy (www.eisacademy.org), as the two partners further develop a long-term relationship.

Both experiments will be launched into space as payloads aboard EXOS’ next suborbital rocket launch, slated for late May at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Upon the successful completion of the launch, EXOS will present on its results at the upcoming International Space Development Conference® (ISDC®) in St. Louis, MO, May 25-29, 2017. As a capstone event, EXOS will also hand-deliver the space-flown experiment package to the students.

About Enterprise In Space

The National Space Society’s Enterprise In Space (EIS) is the world’s first NewSpace education program. EIS is dedicated to providing access to STEAM education to all through the open online EIS Academy and with the help of an artificial intelligence tutor named Ali. The program’s first Academy-wide project is the design, launch, and retrieval of a 3D-printed spacecraft carrying 100+ active and passive experiments from K-postgrad student teams from all around the world.

About the National Space Society (NSS)

NSS is an independent nonprofit educational membership organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen’s voice on space, with over 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. The Society publishes Ad Astra magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important developments in space. NSS thanks their ISDC 2016 Galaxy Sponsor, the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust. To learn more, visit www.nss.org.

About EXOS Aerospace Systems and Technologies

EXOS Aerospace Systems & Technologies, Inc. enables clients to “Fly Now, rather than a Year from Now….” EXOS provides affordable, repeatable, and reliable commercial spaceflight with accelerated turnaround for clients who need minutes of Zero G time, who need to fly now rather than later and prefer immediate access to their payloads. Over the past decade, the team at EXOS has developed, flown and retrieved for re-use, rockets that are reliable, reusable, better for the environment and easier on your budget. They have successfully designed, built and flown rocket engines used in manned flight as well as having fulfilled multiple contracts with NASA. Through all of this, the EXOS team has developed and tested over a hundred rocket engines and dozens of flying vehicles. Now we are excited about serving the worlds’ commercial and US DoD needs.

]]>
0
Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[NIAC Phase I Award: Turbolift]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61226 2017-04-28T15:30:49Z 2017-04-28T07:51:03Z
Turbolift to assist astronauts on long duration space exploration missions. (Credit: Jason Gruber)

Turbolift

Jason Gruber
Medical Solutions Group
Tampa, Fla.

Value: Approximately $125,000
Length of Study: 9 months

Description

Long duration space exploration missions cause astronauts to experience physiological deconditioning, including bone loss, muscle atrophy, cardiovascular deconditioning, sensorimotor/balance impairment, and vision changes.

For a crewed Mars mission, where microgravity and reduced gravity (e.g. 0.38 G on the Martian surface) exposure may occur for 2+ years, deconditioning impacts the astronauts’ health, well-being, effectiveness, and safety.

Here, we propose a novel linear artificial gravity (AG) technology designed to counteract these deleterious effects on the astronauts. Previous “centrifuge” AG systems have negative impacts due to the constant rotating environment:

1) Coriolis forces, which may be confusing and limit concurrent exercise or lead to injury,

2) vestibular crosscoupling illusions, which are highly provocative and cause motion sickness, and

3) gravity gradients, where the loading varying along the length of the astronauts body. Alternatively, our linear AG technology (termed “Turbolift”) suffers from none of these confounding problems, particularly during the acceleration/deceleration “loading” phases.

Briefly, the conceptual paradigm is as follows: the astronaut is linearly accelerated at 1G for ~1s, then is rotated 180 degrees to prepare for a 1G deceleration for ~1s. This process is repeated to create intermittent AG where the force is always headward similar to standing here on Earth.

The experience is likely to be analogous to bouncing mildly on a trampoline. The intermittent loading is intended to reduce or eliminate the physiological deconditioning in a comprehensive, multi-system manner.

To evaluate the linear AG technology, we aim to perform an engineering design analysis to quantify the required size and mass of the system. We also aim to design a scale model of the system to test its feasibility, such that it can be properly evaluated as countermeasure system to enable long duration crewed exploration missions.

Full List of 2017 NIAC Awards

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

]]>
15
Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[GAO Report: First SLS-Orion Flight to be Delayed]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61406 2017-04-27T18:18:38Z 2017-04-27T18:17:30Z
An expanded view of the next configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, including the four RL10 engines. (Credit: NASA)

The first launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion deep-space spacecraft — known as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) –will be delayed beyond its November 2018 launch date, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

“The EM-1 launch date is likely unachievable as technical challenges continue to cause schedule delays. All three programs face unique challenges in completing development, and each has little to no schedule reserve remaining between now and the EM-1 date, meaning they will have to complete all remaining work with little margin for error for unexpected challenges that may arise.” the report states.

The schedule reserve to meet the planned launch is down to zero days for Orion, 80 days for SLS and 28 days for the exploration ground systems needed to support launches, the GAO report said.

GAO recommended “NASA should confirm whether the current EM-1 date is still achievable no later than as part of its fiscal year 2018 budget submission, and propose a new, realistic EM-1 launch readiness date, if warranted, and report its findings to Congress,” the report added. “NASA concurred with both recommendations and agreed that EM-1 will be delayed.”

The report’s executive summary follows.

NASA Human Space Exploration: Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission
Government Accountability Office
GAO-17-414 [Full Report]
April 2017

Why GAO Did this Study

NASA is undertaking a trio of closely related programs to continue human space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit: the SLS vehicle; the Orion capsule, which will launch atop the SLS and carry astronauts; and EGS, the supporting ground systems. NASA’s current exploration efforts are estimated to cost almost $24 billion —to include two Orion flights and one each for SLS and EGS — and constitute more than half of NASA’s current portfolio development cost baseline. All three programs are necessary for EM-1 and are working toward a launch readiness date of November 2018. In a large body of work on this issue, including two separate July 2016 reports, GAO has found that these programs have a history of working to aggressive schedules.

The House Committee on Appropriations report accompanying H.R. 2578 included a provision for GAO to assess the acquisition progress of the Orion, SLS, and EGS, programs. This report assesses the extent to which these programs have risks that affect their progress toward meeting their commitments for EM-1. To do this work, GAO assessed documentation on schedule and program risks and interviewed program and NASA officials.

What GAO Found

With less than 2 years until the planned November 2018 launch date for its first exploration mission (EM-1), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) three human exploration programs —Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), Space Launch System (SLS), and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) — are making progress on their respective systems, but the EM-1 launch date is likely unachievable as technical challenges continue to cause schedule delays. All three programs face unique challenges in completing development, and each has little to no schedule reserve remaining between now and the EM-1 date, meaning they will have to complete all remaining work with little margin for error for unexpected challenges that may arise. The table below lists the remaining
schedule reserve for each of the programs.

The programs all face challenges that may impact their remaining schedule reserve. For instance

  • the Orion program’s European Service Module is late and is currently driving the program schedule;
  • the SLS program had to stop welding on the core stage—which functions as the SLS’s fuel tank and structural backbone—for months after identifying low weld strengths. Program officials stated that welding resumed in April 2017 following the establishment of a corrective action plan;
  • the EGS program is considering performing concurrent hardware installation and testing, which officials acknowledge would increase complexity; and
  • each program must integrate its own hardware and software individually, after which EGS is responsible for integrating all three programs’ components into one effort at Kennedy Space Center.

Low cost reserves further intensify the schedule pressure. Senior NASA officials said they are analyzing the launch schedule and expect that the EM-1 date will have to slip, but they have yet to make a decision on the feasibility of the current date or report on their findings. With budget discussions currently ongoing for fiscal year 2018, the last year prior to launch, Congress does not yet have insight into the feasibility of the EM-1 launch date, or the repercussions that any cost increase or delays could have in terms of cost and schedule impacts for NASA’s entire portfolio. Unless NASA provides Congress with up-to-date information on whether the current EM-1 date is still achievable, as of the time the agency submits its 2018 budget request, both NASA and Congress will continue to be at
risk of making decisions based on less than the entire picture and on likely unachievable schedules.

What GAO Recommends

NASA should confirm whether the current EM-1 date is still achievable no later than as part of its fiscal year 2018 budget submission, and propose a new, realistic EM-1 launch readiness date, if warranted, and report its findings to Congress. NASA concurred with both recommendations and agreed that EM-1 will be delayed.

]]>
39
Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[Another Orion Worry: Spacesuits]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61404 2017-04-27T05:38:09Z 2017-04-27T11:51:51Z
Spacewalker Kate Rubins works outside the International Space Station with the SpaceX Dragon space freighter just below her. (Credit: NASA TV)

The NASA Office of Inspector General has published another audit of the agency’s human spaceflight effort, and  the watchdog has found yet another area of concern: spacesuits being developed for Orion deep-space missions and the aging ones on the International Space Station.

“Despite spending nearly $200 million on NASA’s next-generation spacesuit technologies, the Agency remains years away from having a flight-ready spacesuit capable of replacing the EMU or suitable for use on future exploration missions,” the audit states. “As different missions require different designs, the lack of a formal plan and specific destinations for future missions has complicated spacesuit development. Moreover, the Agency has reduced the funding dedicated to spacesuit development in favor of other priorities such as an in-space habitat….

“Given the current development schedule, a significant risk exists that a next-generation spacesuit prototype will not be sufficiently mature in time to test it on the ISS prior to 2024,” the audit warns. “Finally, little schedule margin exists between anticipated delivery of the Orion Crew Survival System spacesuit in March 2021 and NASA’s current internal launch date of August 2021 for its first crewed mission beyond low Earth orbit.”

The schedule would appear to rule out an early flight test of the Orion spacecraft with a crew aboard in 2019. NASA recently completed a review to determine whether the first flight of Orion and its booster, the Space Launch System, could be conducted with a crew. The space agency has not released the results of that review.

Meanwhile, NASA’s aging supply of EVA suits are wearing out.

“NASA continues to manage an array of design and health risks associated with the EMUs used by ISS crew,” the audit adds. “In addition, only 11 of the 18 original EMU Primary Life Support System units – a backpack-like structure that performs a variety of functions required to keep an astronaut alive during a spacewalk – are still in use, raising concerns that the inventory may not be adequate to last through the planned retirement of the ISS. Given these issues, NASA will be challenged to continue to support ISS needs with the current fleet of EMUs through 2024, a challenge that will escalate significantly if Station operations are extended to 2028.”

The IG recommended, and NASA concurred, that the space agency “1) develop and implement a formal plan for design, production, and testing of the next-generation extravehicular activity (EVA) spacesuits in accordance with the exploration goals of the Agency, crew needs, and the planned retirement of the ISS in 2024; (2) conduct a trade study comparing the cost of maintaining the current EMU spacesuit and developing and testing a next-generation spacesuit; and (3) apply lessons learned from operations of existing EVA and launch, entry, and abort spacesuit systems to the design of future exploration spacesuit systems to ensure mitigation of non-life-threatening health risks or other injuries that could impair mission objectives. ”

The audit’s summary is below.

NASA’s Management and Development of Spacesuits
NASA Office of Inspector General
Report No. IG-17-018
April 26, 2017
[Full Report — PDF]

Why We Performed this Audit

Beginning with the Gemini 4 mission in June 1965, NASA astronauts have ventured outside their spacecraft hundreds of times wearing specialized suits that protect them from the harsh environments of space and provide the oxygen and temperature control necessary to preserve life. The spacesuits NASA astronauts currently use on the International Space Station (ISS or Station) – known as Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMU) – were developed more than 40 years ago and have far outlasted their original 15-year design life.

While maintaining the existing fleet of EMUs for use on the ISS, the Agency has also spent almost $200 million on three spacesuit development efforts to enable human exploration in deep space, including missions to Mars: the Constellation Space Suit System ($135.6 million), Advanced Space Suit Project ($51.6 million), and Orion Crew Survival System ($12 million). A key part of these development efforts will be testing the next-generation spacesuit technologies on the ISS prior to its scheduled retirement in 2024.

In this audit, we examined NASA’s efforts to maintain its existing spacesuits and its plans for and progress in developing its next-generation spacesuits. To complete this work, we interviewed Agency and other relevant officials; analyzed cost, schedule, and performance data; and reviewed relevant reports, documents, and presentations.

What We Found

NASA continues to manage an array of design and health risks associated with the EMUs used by ISS crew. In addition, only 11 of the 18 original EMU Primary Life Support System units – a backpack-like structure that performs a variety of functions required to keep an astronaut alive during a spacewalk – are still in use, raising concerns that the inventory may not be adequate to last through the planned retirement of the ISS. Given these issues, NASA will be challenged to continue to support ISS needs with the current fleet of EMUs through 2024, a challenge that will escalate significantly if Station operations are extended to 2028.

Despite spending nearly $200 million on NASA’s next-generation spacesuit technologies, the Agency remains years away from having a flight-ready spacesuit capable of replacing the EMU or suitable for use on future exploration missions. As different missions require different designs, the lack of a formal plan and specific destinations for future missions has complicated spacesuit development. Moreover, the Agency has reduced the funding dedicated to spacesuit development in favor of other priorities such as an in-space habitat.

After examining these spacesuit development efforts, we question NASA’s decision to continue funding a contract associated with the Constellation Program after cancellation of that Program and a recommendation made by Johnson Space Center officials in 2011 to cancel the contract. Rather than terminate the contract, NASA paid the contractor $80.8 million between 2011 and 2016 for spacesuit technology development, despite parallel development activities being conducted within NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division. Moreover, given the current development schedule, a significant risk exists that a next-generation spacesuit prototype will not be sufficiently mature in time to test it on the ISS prior to 2024. Finally, little schedule margin exists between anticipated delivery of the Orion Crew Survival System spacesuit in March 2021 and NASA’s current internal launch date of August 2021 for its first crewed mission beyond low Earth orbit.

What We Recommended

To maintain the efficacy of the current EMUs and ensure successful development of a next-generation spacesuit, we recommended the Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (1) develop and implement a formal plan for design, production, and testing of the next-generation extravehicular activity (EVA) spacesuits in accordance with the exploration goals of the Agency, crew needs, and the planned retirement of the ISS in 2024; (2) conduct a trade study comparing the cost of maintaining the current EMU spacesuit and developing and testing a next-generation spacesuit; and (3) apply lessons learned from operations of existing EVA and launch, entry, and abort spacesuit systems to the design of future exploration spacesuit systems to ensure mitigation of non-life-threatening health risks or other injuries that could impair mission objectives.

In response to a draft of this report, NASA management concurred with our recommendations and described its corrective actions. We consider management’s comments responsive; therefore, the recommendations are resolved and will be closed upon verification and completion of the proposed corrective actions.

Save

]]>
19
Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[Vector Space Systems Selected for NASA Small Business Funding]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61366 2017-04-27T04:29:41Z 2017-04-27T09:15:12Z
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) additive manufactured injector by was successfully hot fire tested by Vector Space System on Dec. 8, 2016 using Liquid Oxygen/Propylene propellant (LOX/LC3H6). This work was performed under a 2015 STMD ACO Space Act Agreement. (Credit: Vector Space System)

Vector Space Systems has been selected for a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract to develop new technology for the company’s Vector-R small satellite launch vehicle.

“In the proposed concept, electrically-driven micropumps drive a small portion of each propellant over a heat exchanger at the engine to pressurize the tanks. Excess flow can be diverted to the engine as needed,” the proposal states.

“This approach reduces system mass, complexity and acquisition cost as well as operational costs,” the proposal adds. “It eliminates the need for all high-pressure tanks and associated components.”

The Vector-R is a 2-stage pressure-fed, LOX/subcooled propylene launch vehicle designed to place payloads weighing up to 60 kg in low earth orbit.

SBIR Phase I awards are worth a maximum of $125,000 over six months.

A summary of the selected proposal follows.

Proposal Title: Flight Demonstration of a Micropump-based Stage Pressurization System
Subtopic Title: Small Launch Vehicle Technologies and Demonstrations

Small Business Concern
Vector Launch Inc.
Tucson, AZ

Principal Investigator/Project Manager
Christopher Bostwick
Los Alamitos, CA

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 4

Technical Abstract

Vector Launch, Inc. proposes to apply recent advances in micropump and additive manufacturing technologies to develop and demonstrate a micropump-based autogenous pressurization system for its commercial Vector-R first stage and mature the technology with multiple static-fire-tests leading to a demonstration flight test (TRL 6).

The Vector-R is a 2-stage pressure-fed, LOX/subcooled propylene commercial small launch vehicle, designed to place up to 60 kg in low earth orbit. In the proposed concept, electrically-driven micropumps drive a small portion of each propellant over a heat exchanger at the engine to pressurize the tanks. Excess flow can be diverted to the engine as needed.

This approach reduces system mass, complexity and acquisition cost as well as operational costs. It eliminates the need for all high-pressure tanks and associated components. It can be used on any pressure-fed stage, for launch vehicle and in-space application when using high vapor pressure propellants such as LOX/methane or LOX/propane. As such, it is an enabler for missions targeted to use in-situ propellants since the need for a separate pressurant like helium is either greatly reduced or eliminated.

By leveraging Vector’s ongoing Vector-R micro-launcher development, it is possible to reach TRL 6 with demonstration flight testing during Phase II.

Potential NASA Commercial Applications

The technology offers the means of drastically reducing the mass, complexity and cost of pressure-fed propulsion stages employing high vapor pressure propellants like LOX, methane, propylene and propane. The reductions in costs apply to both acquisition and operational costs of propulsive stages since the proposed system is simpler and lighter.

Applications include small launch vehicle stages where turbo-pumps are inefficient and cost-prohibitive. For Vector, the immediate application of the technology which could benefit NASA is the Vector-R launch vehicle. This vehicle is designed to provide dedicated launch services to nanosats up to 60 kg, with planned operations starting in 2018.

Candidate small spacecraft which could benefit from dedicated launch services or reduced launch costs provided by the technology include numerous CubeSats and nanosats in development at NASA or funded by NASA, such as NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative and Educational Launch of Nanosatellites.

Other longer term potential applications include future missions to Mars and other bodies which use pressure-fed systems, whether directly or in conjunction with pump-fed engines. For Mars ascent, this technology is particularly attractive when using in-situ propellants since it eliminates the need for a pressurant like helium. The application of this technology for Mars missions is likely to be years away.

Potential Non-NASA Commercial Applications

With the Vector-R micro-launcher, Vector is positioning itself to provide responsive, dedicated launch to the micro- and nanosat market expected to burgeon in the next few years. Candidate small spacecraft which could benefit from dedicated services or reduced launch costs provided by the technology include commercial entities operating constellations, such Planets (formerly known as Planet Labs) and Google’s Terra Bella (formerly known as Skybox Imaging), as well as numerous other CubeSats and nanosats development efforts funded NSF, the Air Force, ORS and SMDC. Aggregators such as Spaceflight Industries would also benefit of the availability of dedicated, responsive launch for their numerous customers, particularly those targeting specific orbits or mission timelines.

Technology Taxonomy Mapping

  • Conversion
  • Fuels/Propellants
  • Heat Exchange
  • Launch Engine/Booster
  • Spacecraft Main Engine

Save

]]>
5
Doug Messier http://www.parabolicarc.com <![CDATA[NIAC Phase I Award: Direct Multipixel Imaging and Spectroscopy of Exoplanets]]> http://www.parabolicarc.com/?p=61241 2017-04-27T04:28:38Z 2017-04-27T07:40:06Z
Direct Multipixel Imaging and Spectroscopy of an exoplanet with a Solar Gravity Lens Mission. (Credit: Slava Turyshev)

Direct Multipixel Imaging and Spectroscopy of an Exoplanet with a Solar Gravity Lens Mission

Slava Turyshev
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, Calif.

Value: Approximately $125,000
Length of Study: 9 months

Description

We propose to study a mission to the deep regions outside the solar system that will exploit the remarkable optical properties of the Solar Gravitational Lens (SGL) focus to effectively build an astronomical telescope capable of direct megapixel high-resolution imaging and spectroscopy of a potentially habitable exoplanet. Although theoretically it seems feasible, the engineering aspects of building such an astronomical telescope on the large scales involved were not addressed before; we propose to do that.

Our main question for this study is not “how to get there?” (although it will also be addressed), but rather “what does it take to operate a spacecraft at such enormous distances with the needed precision?”

Specifically, we propose to study I) how a space mission to the focal region of the SGL may be used to obtain high-resolution direct imaging and spectroscopy of an exoplanet by detecting, tracking, and studying the Einstein’s ring around the Sun, and II) how such information could be used to unambiguously detect and study life on another planet.

Full List of 2017 NIAC Awards

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

]]>
7