COBALT Flight Demonstrations Fuse Technologies to Gain Precision Landing Results


Team members from the NASA COBALT team and the Masten Xodiac team hold a pre-campaign TIM (Technical Interchange Meeting) to iron out remaining technical hurdles and operations logistics in preparation for the COBALT payload integration onto Xodiac for the open-loop flight testing. The image is taken in the Masten Xodiac hangar, and Xodiac is in the background. The COBALT payload sits atop Xodiac in the empty payload frame. (Credit: NASA)

MOJAVE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Many regions in the solar system beckon for exploration, but they are considered unreachable due to technology gaps in current landing systems. The CoOperative Blending of Autonomous Landing Technologies (COBALT) project, conducted by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s (STMD) and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, could change that.

Through a flight campaign this month through April, COBALT will mature and demonstrate new guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) technologies to enable precision landing for future exploration missions.

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NASA Selects New Technologies for Flight Tests for Future Space Exploration


EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected five space technologies to test on low-gravity-simulating aircraft, high-altitude balloons or suborbital rockets. The opportunity to fly on these vehicles helps advance technologies closer to practical use by taking them from a laboratory environment to the real world.

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Drone Flight Tests FAA’s Technologies for Spacecraft Re-entry

Near Space Corporation launched its balloon borne high-altitude drone from Tillamook, Oregon, carrying a special payload with FAA new technologies on board. (Credit: Near Space Corporation)
Near Space Corporation launched its balloon borne high-altitude drone from Tillamook, Oregon, carrying a special payload with FAA new technologies on board. (Credit: Near Space Corporation)

High-Altitude Drone Tests New Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, surveillance technologies potential to support commercial spacecraft

TILLAMOOK, Ore. (NASA PR) — A drone released from a high-altitude balloon carried a payload to evaluate how the equipment could help the FAA detect and track commercial spacecraft entering the National Air Space, NAS, as it descends from space.

Near Space Corporation, NSC, in Tillamook, Oregon, conducted the flight test on Oct. 3 under the first FAA Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) test site for UAS high-altitude Certificate of Authorization, COA. With that flight, NSC became the first commercial suborbital space company to conduct a flight test under the agency’s UAS rules.

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NASA Space Technology Year in Review

Mars 2020 Lander Vision System flight tested aboard a Masten “Xombie” up to 1,066 feet on December 9, 2014 at Mojave Air and Space Port in California. (Credits: NASA Photo / Tom Tschida)
Mars 2020 Lander Vision System flight tested aboard a Masten “Xombie” up to 1,066 feet on December 9, 2014 at Mojave Air and Space Port in California. (Credits: NASA Photo / Tom Tschida)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is dedicated to pushing the technological envelope, taking on challenges not only to further space agency missions near Earth, but also to sustain future deep space exploration activities.

“In 2016, we completed several major program milestones,” explains Steve Jurczyk, NASA associate administrator for STMD.

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World View Completes Successful NASA Flight Mission

Credit: World View
Credit: World View

TUCSON, Ariz. (World View PR) – World View has successfully completed a high-altitude balloon mission for the Southwest Research Institute, a flight funded by the NASA Flight Opportunities Program (FOP) office.

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NASA Releases Solicitation for Partnerships on Tipping Point Technologies

NASA LOGOUtilizing Public-Private Partnerships To Advance Tipping Point Technologies
Website

Executive Summary

This NASA Research Announcement (NRA), entitled “Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion-2016 (SpaceTech-REDDI-2016)” is NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate’s (STMD) annual umbrella solicitation. The following STMD programs will be included in the solicitation:

  • NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC),
  • Space Technology Research Grants (STRG),
  • Game Changing Development (GCD),
  • Small Spacecraft Technology (SST),
  • Technology Demonstration Missions (TDM) and
  • Flight Opportunities Program (FOP).

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NASA Selects New Technologies for Flight Tests

Made in Space employees on a Zero G research flight.
Made in Space employees on a Zero G research flight.

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Flight Opportunities program has selected 13 space technology payloads to flight test on parabolic aircraft, high-altitude balloons or suborbital launch vehicles to demonstrate new technologies. The selections were made through the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington.

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NSRC Day 2 Summary

SNC technicians inspect the Dream Chaser ETA. (Credit: SNC)
SNC technicians inspect the Dream Chaser ETA. (Credit: SNC)

The second day of the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference took place in Colorado on Friday. Although I wasn’t able to attend, I have compiled highlights via Twitter posts. (You can follow along with hashtag #nsrc2016.)

Below is a summary of updates that cover Sierra Nevada Corporation, Cecil Airport, Spaceport Colorado, FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation, World View Enterprises, NASA Flight Opportunities Program.

There was a presentation by Charles Walker, who was the first person to perform commercial experiments in space as a payload specialist on three space shuttle missions.

A separate panel discussion on human-tended space research reached the unsurprising consensus that government should lift its ban on sending scientists into space with their experiments.

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A Summary of NSRC Day 1

Precise thrust vector control and deep throttling enable pinpoint booster landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)
Precise thrust vector control and deep throttling enable pinpoint booster landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

The three-day Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference began today in Colorado. Although I wasn’t able to attend, I have compiled highlights of a very newsworthy day via Twitter posts. (You can follow along with hashtag #nsrc2016.)

Below is a summary of news and updates provided by Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, World View Enterprises, Exos Aerospace, Virgin Galactic, Near Space Corporation, and NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program.

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Blue Origin Joins NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program

The reusable New Shepard space vehicle ascends through clear skies to an apogee of 339,138 feet. (Credit: Blue Origin)
The reusable New Shepard space vehicle ascends through clear skies to an apogee of 339,138 feet. (Credit: Blue Origin)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Blue Origin, LLC, in Van Horn, Texas, to integrate and fly technology payloads near the boundary of space on their New Shepard suborbital spacecraft in support of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program.

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NASA Seeks Suborbital Space Companies to Flight Test Space Technologies

Current commercial suborbital spaces launch providers that are under contract for the Flight Opportunities Program. (Credit: NASA Collage / Monroe Conner)
Current commercial suborbital spaces launch providers that are under contract for the Flight Opportunities Program. (Credit: NASA Collage / Monroe Conner)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has been working with commercial space companies for several years to deliver astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station. The agency has also sought commercial suborbital space companies to verify the performance of technologies and systems in suborbital space with the goal of reducing the cost and risk of future orbital space missions.

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Flight Opportunities Program has re-opened its solicitation seeking to on-ramp suborbital reusable launch vehicle services that will fly NASA internally sourced or NASA-directed research and development technology payloads.  The suborbital flights will provide these payloads exposure to space, reduced gravity or high-altitude environments required to test technology performance and advance technology readiness levels.

NASA awarded the first on-ramp solicitation to Near Space Corporation, Tillamook, Oregon, in September 2015, that joined original vendors Masten Space Systems, Mojave, California; UP Aerospace, Littleton, Colorado; Virgin Galactic, New York City; and World View, Tucson, Arizona, in providing flight services using suborbital launchers and balloons.

The on-ramping solicitation allows for additional suborbital space companies with a proven flight record to qualify as new flight providers for the program. Aircraft microgravity flight services are outside the scope of this solicitation.

Technology Tested on Spaceport America Rocket Launch

 SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM (NASA PR) — An UP Aerospace SpaceLoft sounding rocket soared into the sky Nov. 6 from Spaceport America, New Mexico, carrying four technology experiments for NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program that funded the launch of these technologies.

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NASA Selects New Technologies for Parabolic Flights and Suborbital Launches

NASA LOGOEDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected eight space technology payloads for reduced gravity flights on board specialized aircraft and commercial suborbital reusable launch vehicles (sRLVs). These flights provide a valuable platform to mature cutting-edge technologies, validating feasibility and reducing technical risks and costs before infusion into future space missions.

Five of the newly selected proposals requested parabolic flights, which involve a flight maneuver that uses a dramatic half-minute drop of the aircraft though the sky to simulate weightlessness. Two proposed projects will fly on sRLVs for testing during longer periods of weightlessness. An additional payload will fly on both platforms.

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UP Aerospace Successfully Launches From Spaceport America

SL-10 launch (Credit: Spaceport America)
SL-10 launch (Credit: Spaceport America)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM, November 6, 2015 (Spaceport America PR)  – Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport, announced the successful launch today of an UP Aerospace SpaceLoft™rocket carrying several scientific and engineering experiments. The launch took place this morning at 8:01 MST from Spaceport America’s Vertical Launch Complex-1 on the East Campus. This launch represents Spaceport America’s 24th overall launch and the fourth from Spaceport America with NASA Flight Opportunities Program payloads.

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NASA Flight Opportunities Awards Contract to Near Space Corporation

A Near Space Corporation balloon lifts the firm's small HASS shuttle glider during a test flight in 2013. (Credit: Near Space Corp.)
A Near Space Corporation balloon lifts the firm’s small HASS shuttle glider during a test flight in 2013. (Credit: Near Space Corp.)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded a Commercial Space Flight and Integrations Services contract to Near Space Corporation of Tillamook, Oregon, to provide commercial space flight and integration systems for the agency’s Flight Opportunities Program.

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