NASA Awards $106 Million to US Small Businesses for Technology Development

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Managing pilotless aircraft and solar panels that could help humans live on the Moon and Mars are among the technologies NASA is looking to develop with small business awards totaling $106 million. In all, NASA has selected 142 proposals from 129 U.S. small businesses from 28 states and the District of Columbia to receive Phase II contracts as part the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

“Small businesses play an important role in our science and exploration endeavors,” said Jim Reuter, acting associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “NASA’s diverse community of partners, including small businesses across the country, helps us achieve our mission and cultivate the U.S. economy. Their innovations will help America land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024, establish a sustainable presence on the lunar surface a few years later, and pursue exciting opportunities for going to Mars and beyond.”

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Beyond the Metal: Investigating Soft Robots at NASA Langley

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Into the Spiderverse’s newest crew of villains include a brilliant scientist named Doctor Octopus who uses flexible robotic arms to commit her dastardly deeds. Her bionic arms can throw objects, aid her in moving quickly in fight scenes, and a host of other functions. While we can leave the evil geniuses to the movies, two genius interns are investigating soft robotics like the supervillain’s incredible arms for viability beyond our planet at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

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Bezos Re-unveils Blue Moon, BE-7 Engine

Blue Moon lander with payloads. (Credit: Blue Origin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During a presentation in Washington, DC, today, Jeff Bezos laid out a bold vision humans living in giant cylindrical floating space colonies first envisioned by Gerard K. O’Neill four decades ago.

On a more immediate, practical front, the Amazon.com founder produced updated concept art for Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander he says would be perfect for landing astronauts at the south pole of the moon by 2024 as the Trump Administration has proposed.

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Lockheed Martin Completes Critical Testing Milestone for NASA JPL’s Mars 2020 Rover Heat Shield

The Lockheed Martin-built heat shield, shown here in the testing phase, is just one component in the final aeroshell that will protect the Mars 2020 rover on its long journey to Mars. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

DENVER, May 2, 2019 (Lockheed Martin PR) — Protecting against the extremes of space travel is critical to the success of any mission. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has successfully completed the flight hardware structure of the heat shield, validating the physical integrity with a final static test after exposing it to flight-like thermal conditions.

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Former Astronaut Leads New Space Habitat Research Institute at UC Davis

Stephen Robinson

By Andy Fell
University of California, Davis

In a significant step toward human-crewed space missions to the moon or Mars, NASA has awarded a grant of up to $15 million over five years to a new research institute led by the University of California, Davis. The HOME (Habitats Optimized for Missions of Exploration) Space Technology Research Institute will develop enabling technology for spacecraft and deep-space bases of the future.

HOME is led by Professor Stephen Robinson, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC Davis and a former astronaut.

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NASA KSC Scientist Leading Team to Combat Lunar Dust

Dr. Carlos Calle, lead scientist in the Electrostatics and Surface Physics Laboratory at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, prepares an Electrostatic Dust Shield (EDS) for testing on July 19, 2018. The EDS technology launched to the International Space Station April 17, 2019, as part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE)-11 mission. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Dust can be a nuisance — on Earth and the Moon. Astronauts exploring the Moon’s South Pole will need a way to help keep pesky lunar dust out of hard to reach places.

A team at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida may have the solution. The technology launched to the space station April 17, 2019, from Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia as part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE)-11 mission.

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NASA’s Landmark Twins Study Reveals Resilience of Human Body in Space

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Results from NASA’s landmark Twins Study, which took place from 2015-2016, were published Thursday in Science. The integrated paper — encompassing work from 10 research teams — reveals some interesting, surprising and reassuring data about how one human body adapted to — and recovered from — the extreme environment of space.

The Twins Study provides the first integrated biomolecular view into how the human body responds to the spaceflight environment, and serves as a genomic stepping stone to better understand how to maintain crew health during human expeditions to the Moon and Mars.

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We Return to the Moon, But We Won’t Do It Alone

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Jim Bridenstine Blog
NASA Administrator

When President Donald Trump charged NASA with returning to the Moon, he specified that we partner with industry and other nations to make it possible. Today, on the first day of the 35thSpace Symposium in Colorado we continue our commitment to work with innovative partners as we chart our path forward to the moon in 2024.

The Space Symposium provided me and the NASA team a unique opportunity for dialogue, as it is the first major international public forum to discuss President Trump’s and Vice President Pence’s 2024 moon challenge.  Earlier today I met with several members of the international community to discuss our lunar exploration plans and reiterated NASA’s commitment to move forward to the Moon with strong international collaboration.

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Bridenstine Appoints Sirangelo as Special Assistant to Oversee Lunar Plans

Mark Sirangelo (Credit: SNC)

Appointment of Mark Sirangelo
Message from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Mark Sirangelo as Special Assistant to the Administrator. In this role, Mark will have broad responsibility to work across the Mission Directorates to further develop the Exploration Campaign. This includes a strategy to meet the Administration’s policy to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024. he will also lead the planning for the proposed agency restructuring to creat the Moon to Mars Mission Directorate that will manage the programs to develop the Gateway, human rated lander and surface systems to return to the Moon and establish a permanent presence. The new proposed Directorate will also manage the Exploration Research and Technology programs to enable capabilities for exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Mark N. Sirangelo has a long history in space and aerospace having lead program teams that participated in over 300 space missions, including over 20 planetary missions and 70 NASA missions. His recent work experience has been as Scholar in Residence for Engineering, Applied Science and Aerospace at the University of Colorado. Formerly, he was the head of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems and CEO of SpaceDev, its predecessor company. He also served on the Defense Innovation Board for the Secretary of Defense and as the Chief Innovation Officer of the State of Colorado.

His personal and organizational recognitions include being inducted int the Space Foundation’s Technology Hall of Fame, being an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, named one of the World’s Top 10 Innovative Space Companies by Fast Company, and recognized as Manufacturer Builder of the the Year by ColoradoBiz, The Best Place to Work by the Business Journals, and part of Inc. Magazine’s top 200 companies.

Mr. Sirangelo was a founding member of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and the founder and Chairman of eSpace, the Center for Space Entrepreneurship. He has been working to make the world a safer place for children as a foundational Board member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

He holds Doctorate, MBA and Bachelor of Science degrees, is a long-term licensed pilot, and has served his country proudly as a U.S. Army officer.

Please join me in welcoming Mark to the NASA leadership team.

Drone Maps Icy Lava Tube in Iceland in Preparation for Lunar & Martian Cave Exploration

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Astrobotic/SETI Institute PR) – The SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology, Inc. are announcing the successful mapping in 3D of the interior of an ice-rich lava tube in Iceland using a LiDAR-equipped drone. The team was investigating the Lofthellir Lava Tube Ice Cave in the remote Myvatn region of Iceland, and used the drone to document the lava tube’s shape and extent, history of rock falls, and spectacular ice formations.

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ESA’s Mars Express Matches Methane Spike Measured by NASA’s Curiosity Rover

Artist’s impression of Mars Express. The background image is based on an actual image of Mars taken by the spacecraft’s high resolution stereo camera. Image credit: Spacecraft: ESA/ATG medialab; Mars: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)

ROME, 1 April 2019 (ESA PR) — A reanalysis of data collected by ESA’s Mars Express during the first 20 months of NASA’s Curiosity mission found one case of correlated methane detection, the first time an in-situ measurement has been independently confirmed from orbit.

Reports of methane in the martian atmosphere have been intensely debated, with Mars Express contributing one of the first measurements from orbit in 2004, shortly after its arrival at the Red Planet.

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Bridenstine to Hold NASA Town Hall About Moon on Monday

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA Agency-wide Message

Headquarters is hosting an agency-wide town hall with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Monday, April 1, at 1:30 p.m. EDT. Please join the Administrator for this important discussion on our Moon to Mars plans.

All employees, contractors and civil servants, are encouraged to participate in person at Headquarters in the Webb auditorium or at the designated viewing location at their center. The event will air live on NASA Television (public channel), through your center cable or streaming distribution, and on the agency’s website at https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive.

You may submit questions for the Administrator securely from any computer or mobile device starting now and throughout the presentation.

To submit a question:

  • Go to http://www.nasa.gov/townhall
  • Enter your Center.
  • Click “Ask” or, if your question is already on the list, vote it up the list by clicking the arrow on the left.

As many questions as possible will be taken. Please plan to join the Administrator and your colleagues for this event.

White House Statement on Returning to the Moon by 2024

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NASA is With You When You Fly, Even on Mars

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — According to the 1958 law that established NASA, where the first “A” in NASA stands for aeronautics, the agency is charged with solving the problems of flight within the atmosphere.

But the law doesn’t say which planet’s atmosphere.

In that spirit, when the decision was made to add a small helicopter to the Mars 2020 rover mission to the Red Planet, experts at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California looked to the agency’s finest aeronautical innovators on this planet for help.

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