NASA Marks Continued Progress on X-59

NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology X-plane, or QueSST, will fly over communities in the United States to demonstrate quiet supersonic. (Credits: Lockheed Martin)

by Matt Kamlet
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

PALMDALE, Calif. — Assembly of NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft is continuing during 2020 and making good progress, despite challenges such as those imposed by the unexpected global pandemic.

NASA plans as early as 2024 to fly the X-59 over select communities on missions to gather information about how the public will react to the level of quiet supersonic flight noise the aircraft is designed to produce – if they hear anything at all.

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Technology Developed for Lunar Landings Makes Self-Driving Cars Safer on Earth

Electro-Optics Lead Aram Gragossian (left) and Integration Lead Jake Follman configure the electronics within an NDL engineering test unit for remote software testing while in a lab on center at NASA’s Langley Research Center. (Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA is advancing a laser-based technology designed to help spacecraft land on a proverbial dime for missions to the Moon and Mars. The technology will undergo testing on upcoming suborbital rocket launches with Blue Origin on its New Shepard rocket and ride to the Moon on several commercial landers as part of the Artemis program. Simultaneously, companies are using the technology to help self-driving cars navigate rush hour traffic on this planet.

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NASA Technology Enables Precision Landing Without a Pilot

The New Shepard (NS) booster lands after this vehicle’s fifth flight during NS-11 May 2, 2019. (Credits: Blue Origin)

by Margo Pierce
NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate

Some of the most interesting places to study in our solar system are found in the most inhospitable environments – but landing on any planetary body is already a risky proposition. With NASA planning robotic and crewed missions to new locations on the Moon and Mars, avoiding landing on the steep slope of a crater or in a boulder field is critical to helping ensure a safe touch down for surface exploration of other worlds. In order to improve landing safety, NASA is developing and testing a suite of precise landing and hazard-avoidance technologies.

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Lander Simulation Testing Helps Advance NASA Navigation Spinoff

Xodiac rocket tests technology to enable precision landing on the moon. (Credits: Lauren Hughes)

MOJAVE, Calif. (NASA PR) — A navigation doppler lidar (NDL) technology originally developed by NASA was demonstrated on a flight test on Sept. 10 with support from the Flight Opportunities program, part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

With roots at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, the technology was licensed in 2016 by Psionic for both terrestrial and space applications, and both the company and Langley continue to evolve and advance the innovation for upcoming lunar missions.

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NASA’s TALOS Thrusters Designed to Lower Cost of Landing on Moon

NASA is developing new deep-space rocket engines that will save time and money on future missions. These next-generation engines could be used on future Artemis lunar landers to enter lunar orbit and descend to the surface. The engines are being developed under a NASA project called Thruster for the Advancement of Low-Temperature Operation in Space (TALOS). (Credits: NASA)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA is developing next-generation small rocket engines to help reduce the cost of NASA and commercial spacecraft destined for the Moon, Mars, and beyond. 

NASA’s Thruster for the Advancement of Low-temperature Operation in Space (TALOS) project is developing small thrusters to reduce overall spacecraft mass and power, which will reduce mission costs. The thrusters can make alterations in a spacecraft’s flight path or altitude and can be used to enter orbit and descend to the surface of another world. They can also serve as main propulsion thrusters for landers.

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How do we get There from Here? With Suborbital Flight Testing

Image shows Trona Pinnacles near California’s NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center during Jan. 31 Super Blue Blood Moon. Trona Pinnacles is an unusual geological feature of the state’s Desert National Conservation. (Credits: NASA / Lauren Hughes)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Standing here on Earth, on a clear night we can look to the sky and see the destination for NASA’s Artemis program: the Moon. Seemingly close, but still quite far. Yet the space between us and that source of fascination is ripe with possibilities for helping mature the technologies we will need to get there, stay there, and venture beyond to Mars.

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Langley Researchers Are Shaking Up Lunar Landing Technology

Navigation doppler LIDAR instrument (Credit: NASA)

The Navigation Doppler Lidar (NDL) project team at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, recently delivered a key component of the instrument to Blue Origin in Kent, Washington, for integration on their New Shepard launch vehicle for an upcoming flight test.

NDL is part of NASA’s Tipping Point program where Blue Origin and NASA are testing a suite of key lunar landing technologies in support of the Artemis Program.

The NDL instrument is comprised of a chassis, containing electro-optic and electronic components, and an optical head with three telescopes. The chassis was delivered to Blue Origin in March, following a virtual pre-ship review after Langley moved into the mandatory telework phase of its COVID-19 response.

The optical head was not delivered at that time because it needed to complete vibration testing to ensure it would be able to survive the launch and flight environments.

Team members continued working remotely, providing virtual support during integration of the NDL chassis at the Blue Origin’s headquarters facility, software support, and planning for a return to onsite work.

In June, members of the NDL team, following stringent health and safety protocols, successfully completed the optical head vibration testing and a pre-ship review to deliver the optical head to Blue Origin.

The optical head is scheduled for integration on to the New Shepard launch vehicle in preparation for an upcoming flight demonstration.

Fiber Optic Sensing System Readied for Space Use

Allen Parker, Fiber Optic Sensing System (FOSS) senior research engineer at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, and Jonathan Lopez show how FOSS in aeronautics is used on a wing to determine its shape and stress on its structure. (Credits: NASA/Ken Ulbrich)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA will soon test an enhanced system that can take thousands of measurements along a fiber optic wire about the thickness of a human hair for use in space. In the future the technology could monitor spacecraft systems during missions to the Moon and landings on Mars.

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Students Develop Innovative Lunar Exploration Concepts in NASA’s Artemis Competition

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Two university teams have taken top honors in NASA’s 2020 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) competition, which culminated in a virtual forum June 16-18.

The RASC-AL competition is an annual university-level engineering design challenge that allows students to work on real challenges and provide innovative solutions that can be used to advance human exploration of space.

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NASA Fosters Innovative Ways to Understand Biodiversity

Drawing on data from multiple satellite missions (not all collected at the same time), a team of NASA scientists and graphic artists created layers of global data for everything from the land surface, to polar sea ice, to the light reflected by the chlorophyll in the billions of microscopic plants that grow in the ocean. (Credits: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Reto Stöckli)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — The Yellow-billed Cuckoo has soft brown wings, a white belly, a long tail with black and white spots, and is running out of places to live. The cuckoo’s population in its native breeding range in the eastern United States has declined in recent decades due to urbanization, heat waves and other factors. Climate change will likely further reduce its suitable habitat.

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NIAC Award: Advanced Aerocapture System for Enabling Faster-Larger Planetary Science & Human Exploration Missions

Discrete Magnets Positioned Circumferentially and Coaxially on the Forebody for Steering and Mitigating Heat Flux. (Credits: Robert Moses)

NASA Advanced Innovative Concepts (NIAC)
Phase I Award

Amount: $125,000

Advanced Aerocapture System for Enabling Faster-Larger Planetary Science & Human Exploration Missions

Robert Moses
NASA Langley Research Center

Aerocapture offers huge potential increases in science return by allowing the ability to deliver larger payloads, enabling faster transits of existing instruments, or offering flexibility to integrate payloads onto a single and perhaps cheaper launch vehicle. Previous calculations quantified the cost and delivered mass advantages of aerocapture for eleven representative missions for eight possible destinations in our solar system.

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NASA Goes BIG, Selects University Teams to Build Technologies for the Moon’s Darkest Areas

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Almost a quarter of a million miles away from home, the Moon’s permanently shadowed regions are the closest extraterrestrial water source. These craters have remained dark for billions of years, but student-developed technologies can help shine light on all they have to offer.

Through the competitive Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge and the Space Grant project, NASA has awarded nearly $1 million to eight university teams to build sample lunar payloads and demonstrate innovative ways to study the Moon’s darkest areas.

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