Former NASA Astronaut & Armstrong Research Pilot Rick Searfoss Passes Away

Rick Searfoss

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Former NASA research pilot and astronaut Richard “Rick” Searfoss died Sept. 29 at his home in Bear Valley Springs, California. He was 62.

Searfoss, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, served as a research pilot in the flight crew branch at NASA Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center in California from July 2001 to February 2003, having brought with him over 5,000 hours of military flying and 939 hours in space.

He flew on three space flights, onboard space shuttles Columbia and Atlantis, logging 39 days in space. Searfoss was the pilot for his first two space missions, STS-58 and STS-76, landing both times at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Once at Dryden, medical staff was standing by for the astronauts as well as personnel who supported the NASA convoy team in preparing the shuttle for its return ferry flight to Florida.

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NASA Tests Space Tech on UP Aerospace Rocket

UP Aerospace SpaceLoft 12 rocket lifts off from Spaceport America. (Credit: NASA)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM (NASA PR) — Three NASA technology demonstration payloads launched aboard UP Aerospace’s SpaceLoft 12 mission from Spaceport America in New Mexico on Sept. 12.

The suborbital rocket carried an umbrella-like heat shield called Adaptable Deployable Entry and Placement Technology (ADEPT). Developed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, ADEPT’s unique design could be used for planetary lander and sample return missions. The flight tested the heat shield’s deployment sequence and entry performance.

Another Ames payload called Suborbital Flight Environment Monitor (SFEM-3) measures the internal environment of suborbital rockets carrying experiments. The system monitored acceleration, temperature and pressure within the payload bay during flight and could benefit future suborbital launches.

The third technology is from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and is the Autonomous Flight Termination System (AFTS). While the termination device was not active during launch, the payload tested hardware and software performance in the high dynamics of suborbital flight.

The payload flight tests were funded by the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Flight Opportunities program, managed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.

For more about Armstrong, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/armstrong

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NASA Flight Opportunities Program Selects 15 Space Technologies for Tests

New Shepard booster over the landing pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Flight Opportunities program has selected 15 promising space technologies to be tested on commercial low-gravity simulating aircraft, high-altitude balloons and suborbital rockets. These flights will help advance technologies for future spaceflight, taking them from the laboratory to a relevant flight environment.

During an Aug. 28 visit to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, where the Flight Opportunities program is managed, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency will focus on funding more of these payload flights in the future.

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Interview with NASA Flight Opportunities Program Manager Tim Chen

Tim Chen

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — In late June, Flight Opportunities announced the selection of Tim Chen as its new program manager. Formerly the small launch technology manager for Flight Opportunities, Tim provided oversight to NASA’s Announcement of Collaborative Opportunity (ACO) and Tipping Point activities, which help to advance small launch technology to benefit both NASA and industry. While continuing to oversee these agency goals, this summer he stepped into his new role to oversee the full program. We recently spoke with Tim about his new role and strategy for the transition to program manager.
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NASA Armstrong Collaborates with ULA for Cryogenic Fluid and Mid-Air Retrieval Demos

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA is partnering with six U.S. companies to develop 10 “tipping point” technologies that have the potential to significantly benefit the commercial space economy and future NASA missions, including lunar lander and deep space rocket engine technologies.

NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, will collaborate with United Launch Alliance (ULA) on two selected proposals.

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NASA Selects US Firms to Provide Commercial Suborbital Flight Services

NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected four companies to integrate and fly technology payloads on commercial suborbital reusable platforms that carry payloads near the boundary of space. The selection is part of NASA’s continuing effort to foster a viable market for American commercial reusable suborbital platforms that allow testing of new space technologies within Earth’s atmosphere.

Through these new awards, selected companies will receive an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for integration and flight services, drawing from a pool of commercial space companies. The five-year contracts have a combined potential contract value of $45 million. The flights will carry a variety of payloads to help meet the agency’s research and technology needs.

The selected companies are:

  • Aerostar International (Raven Aerostar), Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Blue Origin Texas, LLC, Van Horn, Texas
  • Up Aerospace Inc., Littleton, Colorado
  • World View Enterprises, Inc., Tucson, Arizona

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is charged with maturing crosscutting technologies to flight readiness status for future space missions. The agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, manages the Flight Opportunities Program for STMD.

During the coming year, STMD will make significant new investments that address several high priority challenges for achieving safe and affordable deep space exploration. It continues to solicit the help of the best and brightest minds in academia, industry, and government to drive innovation and enable solutions in important technology thrust areas. These planned investments are addressing high priority challenges for achieving safe and affordable deep space exploration.

For more information on the program, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/flightopportunities

NASA Armstrong Says Hasta la Vista to Dream Chaser

Dream Chaser departs in front of HL-10 at NASA Armstrong where it underwent testing and preparation for successful approach and landing flight. The spacecraft returned to SNC facility in Colorado. (Credits: NASA Photo/Ken Ulbrich)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — After nearly 16 months at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California (AFRC), Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser spacecraft departed April 5. The flight test vehicle is headed to Colorado to be on display in one of the company facilities and may be used to support future manufacturing and ground testing operations

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NASA Seeks Research Proposals for Space Technologies to Flight Test

Carthage College researchers testing their propellant mass gauging experiment in zero gravity. (Credit: NASA)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Flight Opportunities program is seeking research proposals for promising space technologies that benefit future NASA space exploration missions. Selected technologies from industry and academia will be flight-tested on commercial suborbital launch vehicles, reduced gravity aircraft and high-altitude balloon flights.

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A Look Back at the Space Year That Was

Total solar eclipse photographed from NASA Armstrong’s Gulfstream III. (Credit: (NASA/Carla Thomas)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

I realize it’s a bit late, but here’s a look back at the major developments in space in 2017.

I know that I’m probably forgetting something, or several somethings or someones. Fortunately, I have eagle-eyed readers who really seem to enjoy telling me just how much I’ve screwed up. Some of them a little too much….

So, have at it!  Do your worst, eagle-eyed readers!

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NASA Funds Flight for Space Medical Technology on Blue Origin

New Shepard capsule after landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

VAN HORN, Texas (NASA PR) — Blue Origin successfully launched its New Shepard reusable space vehicle on Dec. 12 carrying a medical technology that could potentially treat chest trauma in a space environment.

The New Shepard reusable vertical takeoff and vertical landing space vehicle was launched with the experimental technology from Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site.  In addition to NASA funding non-government researchers to fly payloads, Blue Origin is a Flight Opportunities program launch provider for government payloads. The Flight Opportunities program, is managed under NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).

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World View Successfully Flight Tests Groundbreaking Altitude Control Technology

The World View Stratollite consists of a primary lift balloon (top), secondary balloons (middle), a solar panel power generation and distribution system, and a stratocraft payload-carrying structure (bottom). (Credits: World View)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Long-duration stratospheric research missions could allow scientists to collect vast amounts of data continuously for their payloads. Such missions could benefit NASA by maturing future space technology as well as allowing for Earth observations, such as storm monitoring and forest fire tracking.

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JPL Researchers Validate Technology Performance on Zero-G Parabolic Flights

Research team members evaluate the performance of the Biosleeve Gesture Control Interface for Telerobotics on a March 2017 parabolic flight. (Credit: NASA)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — A series of parabolic flights from Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G) in March 2017 enabled researchers to test and validate the performance of two technologies from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL):

  • Comet Sample Verification System (T0164-P): A tool that enables researchers to verify the quantity and volume of a sample from a comet surface before bringing it back to Earth for analysis
  • Biosleeve Gesture Control Interface for Telerobotics (T0161-P): A sleeve-based gesture-recognition interface that provides intuitive force and position control signals from natural arm, hand, and finger movements, with the potential to be embedded in clothing worn by astronauts working on the International Space Station (ISS) and other missions

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Dream Chaser Completes Successful Captive Carry

Dream Chaser is prepared for its captive-carry test. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

EDWARDS, Calif. — Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spacecraft completed a successful captive-carry test (in which the craft is suspended from another vehicle during flight) today (Aug. 30) at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California’s Mojave Desert. The flight test was a crucial step toward using the space vehicle for orbital flights to the International Space Station.

Attached with a 200-foot-long (61 meters) cable to a Columbia 234-UT helicopter, a test model of the Dream Chaser lifted off at 7:21 a.m. PDT (10:21 a.m. EDT/1421 GMT). The two vehicles flew over Rogers Dry Lake for 1 hour and 41 minutes before landing (with Dream Chaser’s gear extended) at 9:02 a.m. PDT (12:02 p.m. EDT/1602 GMT).

“It went as well as we could possibly expect,” said Steve Lindsey, Sierra Nevada vice president of Exploration Systems, to a group of reporters after the flight. “We met every single flight-test objective.”

Read the rest of the story at Space.com

Sierra Nevada Completes Successful Dream Chaser Glide Flight

Dream Chaser during its captive carry flight. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev. (August 30, 2017) — Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser engineering test article passed a successful Captive Carry test at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center on Wednesday as part of the Phase Two flight test efforts to advance Dream Chaser progress toward orbital flight.

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