Mi­ni Robots Prac­tice Grasp­ing Space De­bris on ISS

Simulation with the two Astrobees. [Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)]
  • During trials on the International Space Station (ISS), one robot positions itself so that it could grab another.
  • These simulate an approach to a tumbling object.
  • The robots work completely autonomously.
  • Focus: Spaceflight, ISS, security, artificial intelligence

OBERPFAFFENHOFEN, Germany (DLR PR) — A challenging feat for a little robot: Honey the Astrobee must grasp and transport Bumble the Astrobee. To pull it off, Honey needs to understand Bumble’s trajectory, position itself correctly and avoid a collision at all costs. Artificial intelligence (AI) helps the cube-shaped robot to accurately assess the situation.

The experiment is part of the TumbleDock/ROAM project, which the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is carrying out together with its partners on the ISS. The experiments are part of an effort to determine the best way to remove hazardous pieces of space debris from Earth orbit.

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Axiom Space Ax-1 Mission to Expand Health, Technology Researchers’ Access to ISS

The International Space Station, photographed by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli following the undocking of his Soyuz-TMA on 23 May 2011. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

Self-assembling technology for future space habitats, cancer research, and devices to purify air on space stations are among investigations headed to the International Space Station on first all-private astronaut mission to the orbiting laboratory  

HOUSTON, 17 March 2022 (Axiom Space PR) – Axiom Space, a leader in human spaceflight now building the first commercial space station, announced today further details on the groundbreaking research planned for the upcoming Ax-1 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) – including self-assembling technology for satellites and future space habitats, cancer stem cell study, and air purification. 

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Silent, Solid-State Propulsion for Advanced Air Mobility Vehicles

Graphic depiction of Silent, Solid-State Propulsion for Advanced Air Mobility Vehicles. (Credits: Steven Barrett)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA is funding research into how to reduce noise levels produced by the next generation of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) air mobility vehicles.

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NASA Funds Research into Venus Atmosphere Sample Return Mission

Graphic depiction of Venus Atmosphere and Cloud Particle Sample Return for Astrobiology. (Credits: Sara Seager)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has funded a study of a mission designed to return samples of Venus’ atmosphere to Earth for scientists to search for signs of life.

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NASA Selects Futuristic Space Technology Concepts for Early Study

Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — An astronaut steps into a body scanner and, hours later, walks on Mars in a custom-made spacesuit, breathing oxygen that was extracted from Mars’ carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere. On Venus, an inflatable bird-like drone swoops through the sky, studying the planet’s atmosphere and weather patterns. Ideas like these are currently science fiction, but they could one day become reality, thanks to a new round of grants awarded by NASA.

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NASA Invests in Tech Development From Small Businesses, Researchers

A new round of awards for small business and research partnerships will advance technology development. A partnership between Interstel Technologies, Inc., and University of Hawaii at Manoa will develop a system for guiding swarms of vehicles, such as rovers, illustrated here. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program has awarded $15 million to U.S. small businesses and research institutions to continue developing technologies in areas ranging from aeronautics to science and space exploration.

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CLICK Team Tests Optical Communications Technology Ahead of Small Spacecraft Swarm Demonstration

Graduate students build the test assembly of the CubeSat Laser Infrared CrosslinK, or CLICK, B/C engineering development unit in a clean room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. (Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (NASA PR) — Teams from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge and University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville are currently testing components of NASA’s CubeSat Laser Infrared CrosslinK (CLICK) B/C demonstration, aiming to validate that the technology can be packaged into a CubeSat and work as expected. CLICK B/C is the second of two sequential missions designed to advance optical communications capabilities for autonomous fleets of CubeSats.

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AFRL Announces Winners of Space University Research Initiative Funding Opportunity

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratoryvia its basic research office, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, announced December 17, the winners of the newly established Space University Research Initiative (SURI) program – a first step in improving the transition of critical concepts from academia into revolutionary new military technologies for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force (USSF).

“Our way of warfare depends on space superiority and AFRL has a long history of research and development in support of this domain. With the recent standup of the USSF, along with the emergence of U.S. Space Command and new energy in the commercial space sector, we have exciting opportunities to modernize the way we lead and manage S&T,” wrote AFRL Commander, Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle in her 2021 Commander’s Intent.

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Exploring Together, NASA and Industry Embrace Laser Communications

Illustration of STPSat-6 with the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) payload communicating data over infrared links. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

By Katherine Schauer
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — Our televisions and computer screens display news, movies, and shows in high-definition, allowing viewers a clear and vibrant experience. Fiber optic connections send laser light densely packed with data through cables to bring these experiences to users.

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NASA Invites Public to Share Launch of Laser Communications Demonstration

Conceptual image of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration payload transmitting optical signals. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is inviting the public to take part in virtual activities and events ahead of the launch of the agency’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) mission. Launch is scheduled for 4:04 – 6:04 a.m. EST on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

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Highly Porous Rocks Responsible for Bennu’s Surprisingly Craggy Surface

During fall 2019, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured this image, which shows one of asteroid Bennu’s boulders with a bright vein that appears to be made of carbonate. The image within the circle (lower right) shows a focused view of the vein. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

TUCSON, Ariz. (University of Arizona PR) — Scientists thought asteroid Bennu’s surface would be like a sandy beach, abundant in fine sand and pebbles, which would have been perfect for collecting samples. Past telescope observations from Earth’s orbit had suggested the presence of ­­large swaths of fine-grain material called fine regolith that’s smaller than a few centimeters.

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NASA Robots Compete in DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge Final

Team CoSTAR, led by NASA’s JPL, will use autonomous robots with diverse methods of movement to compete in the complex underground environments of the SubT Challenge Final. One of the robots, NeBula-Spot, walks on four legs to explore hard-to-access locations. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Led by NASA JPL, Team CoSTAR will participate in the SubT final this week to demonstrate multi-robot autonomy in a series of tests in extreme environments.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Eight teams featuring dozens of robots from more than 30 institutions, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, will converge in a former Kentucky limestone mine from Sept. 21 to 24 to participate in a series of complex underground scenarios. The goal: to demonstrate cutting-edge robotic autonomy capabilities and compete for the chance to win $2 million.

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Baylor Space Health Institute Grants Support Studies on Reducing Astronaut Metabolism for Long Duration Missions

HOUSTON (Baylor College of Medicine PR) — The Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at Baylor College of Medicine granted nearly $4 million in awards to four outstanding researcher teams in response to its Biomedical Research Advances for Space Health (BRASH) 2101 solicitation. The space health institute sought creative never-before-tried ways to reduce potential damage to humans from the space environment through manipulation of metabolism and the normal state-of-being at the cellular or whole organism level.

As NASA’s Artemis missions return humans to the Moon, TRISH works toward countermeasures to address the human health and performance challenges that come with deep space exploration. Modifying the body’s metabolic and homeostatic processes could help reduce damage from space radiation or reduced gravity, while also minimizing food and medical supply needs for future long-duration crewed missions.

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