Aerojet Rocketdyne Tests Advanced Electric Propulsion System

SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 06, 2017 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc., a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), successfully conducted a series of hot-fire tests on a Power Processing Unit (PPU) for an Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) designed to advance the nation’s commercial space capabilities as well as support NASA’s plans for deep space exploration. The tests were conducted at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

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From 2D to 3D, Space Station Microscope Gets an Upgrade

NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, Expedition 30 commander, conducts a session with the Preliminary Advanced Colloids Experiment at the Light Microscopy Module in the Fluids Integrated Rack aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — In science, it’s best to have a clean, sharp picture of what you’re studying. Microscopes afford us the opportunity to look at particles that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye, but these particles can sometimes be masked by gravity. That’s right, the same force that keeps your feet firmly planted to the ground also interferes with getting a good look at how things move and interact at the microscopic level.

The Light Microscopy Module (LMM) microscope aboard the International Space Station is an advanced microscope that gives researchers a look at what is happening on a fundamental level without the interference of gravity. NASA will be sending an upgrade to the LMM on the upcoming SpaceX cargo resupply mission that will enable 3D imaging of complex fluid structures and allow for modeling the movement of individual particles at the micron level.

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Cygnus Leaves Station, Begins Week-long Secondary Mission

SS John Glenn near the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

DULLES, Va., 4 June 2017 (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK, Inc. (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced that its Cygnus™ spacecraft  successfully unberthed from the International Space Station, beginning the next phase of its mission before it reenters Earth’s atmosphere. The “S.S. John Glenn” will now conduct three secondary payload missions including the Saffire-III fire experiment, deployment of four CubeSats and an experiment to further study spacecraft conditions upon reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

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Scientists to Study How Fire Burns in Space

Saffire I experiment inside Cygnus. (Credit: NASA)

COLUMBIA, Md., June 2, 2017 (USRA PR) — Shortly after the Cygnus cargo vehicle (which launched in March 2017) undocks from the International Space Station on June 4, 2017, a team of researchers from NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC), Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) will conduct the Spacecraft Fire Experiment-III (SAFFIRE III).

SAFFIRE III is the third in a series of six flight experiments to better understand how flames spread in microgravity and increase understanding of how an accidental fire might behave in space. “The SAFFIRE portfolio of experiments is providing the best data yet on how large fires behave in the microgravity environment of space,” said Christopher Pestak, Director of USRA operations at NASA GRC.

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SpaceX Dragon to Carry More Than 40 National Laboratory-Sponsored Experiments to ISS

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (CASIS PR) The SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle is slated to launch its 11thcargo resupply mission (CRS-11) to the International Space Station (ISS) no earlier than June 1, 2017 from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A. Onboard the Falcon 9 launch vehicle is the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, which will carry more than 40 ISS U.S. National Laboratory sponsored experiments.

This mission will showcase the breadth of research possible through the ISS National Laboratory, as experiments range from the life and physical sciences, Earth observation and remote sensing, and a variety of student-led investigations.

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Nanotechnology Flight Test: Material Impact on the Future

A Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket with the SubTec-7 payload launches frm NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on May 16, 2017. (Credit: NASA Wallops)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — Mastering the intricacies of controlling matter at the nanoscale level is part of a revolutionary quest to apply nanotechnology to benefit industrial processes. A key element of that technology is the use of carbon nanotubes.

Carbon nanotubes are small hollow tubes with diameters of 0.7 to 50 nanometers and lengths generally in the tens of microns. While ultra-small, carbon nanotubes offer big-time attributes.

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NASA Explores 4 Technologies for Improved Oxygen Recovery

Spacecraft Oxygen Recovery (SCOR) test facility. (Credit: NASA)
Spacecraft Oxygen Recovery (SCOR) test facility. (Credit: NASA)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — On long duration deep space missions, providing crew-members with a steady supply of oxygen is a real challenge. Because resupply is not an option and taking huge tanks of oxygen on exploration spacecraft is not practical, oxygen must be recovered from what is produced during normal metabolism.

Astronauts breathe in oxygen and most is turned into carbon dioxide and water vapor. Getting the oxygen from the water is pretty straightforward and can be done with electrolysis alone. The real trick is efficiently getting oxygen from the carbon dioxide.

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Smallsat 2016: NASA Program & Mission Updates

Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)
Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)

NASA officials have been providing updates this week on agency programs and missions during the 2016 Small Satellite Conference and the CubeSat Workshop that preceded it. I have pulled together summaries of their presentations drawn from Twitter.  Information has come from the following Tweeters:

  • Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust
  • David Hurst ‏@OrbitalDave
  • Hanna Steplewska ‏@spacesurfingirl
  • Augie Allen ‏@AugieAllen
  • RITSpaceExploration ‏@RITSPEX

Enjoy!
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NASA Glenn Successfully Ignites Largest Fire Experiment in Space

Saffire I experiment inside Cygnus. (Credit: NASA)
Saffire I experiment inside Cygnus. (Credit: NASA)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — Engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio and Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia successfully conducted the first remote Spacecraft Fire Experiment, or Saffire I, carried inside an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo vehicle that departed the International Space Station on Tuesday, June 14.  The experiment’s purpose is to learn how a fire might behave in a spacecraft after leaving Earth’s atmosphere. Understanding how fire spreads in a microgravity environment is critical to the safety of astronauts who live and work in space as NASA prepares for long duration missions on the journey to Mars.

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NASA Working on Advance Solar Array Technology

Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA) technology undergoes testing (Credits: Deployable Space Systems, Inc.)
Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA) technology undergoes testing (Credits: Deployable Space Systems, Inc.)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) worked with two private firms to develop advanced structures for high power solar arrays that are stronger, lighter, and package more compactly for launch. This technology investment furthers the agency’s deep space exploration goals and aids the commercial communications satellite industry, the provider of direct-to-home television, satellite radio, broadband internet and a multitude of other services.

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NASA Prepares to Start a Fire in Space

A team of scientists and engineers tests the components of Saffire I and Saffire II. (Credit: NASA)
A team of scientists and engineers tests the components of Saffire I and Saffire II. (Credit: NASA)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — Engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland have developed a space flight experiment that will increase understanding of how an accidental fire might behave in a spacecraft after it leaves Earth’s atmosphere. The first of three planned flight experiments is scheduled for launch in an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo vehicle on March 22 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Awarded Contract to Mature High-Powered Nested Hall Thruster

Upgraded XR-5A Hall thruster (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)
Upgraded XR-5A Hall thruster (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 15, 2016 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), has been awarded a contract valued at more than $2.5 million from NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division to develop and demonstrate a high-power electric propulsion system. Once fully developed, the technology will help reduce trip times and the cost of human spaceflight to cislunar space and beyond to Mars.

Under the contract, the Aerojet Rocketdyne team will complete the development of a 100-kilowatt Hall Thruster System, including a 250-kilowatt thruster that uses Aerojet Rocketdyne’s patented multi-channel Nested Hall Thruster technology; critical elements of a 100-kilowatt modular Power Processing Unit (PPU); and elements of the modular xenon feed system. PPUs convert the electrical power generated by a spacecraft’s solar arrays into the power needed for the Hall Thruster. The contract includes system integration testing, and will culminate with a 100-hour test of the 100-kilowatt system at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

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NASA Seeks Satellite Maker for Series of CubeSat Technology Missions

NASA’s STMD is spearheading work on small spacecraft such as these two Nodes satellites. The Nodes spacecraft were taken to the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2015 via the fourth Orbital ATK cargo mission. Nodes will be deployed into low-Earth orbit from the ISS in early 2016 and test new network capabilities for operating swarms of spacecraft in the future. (Credit: NASA)
NASA’s STMD is spearheading work on small spacecraft such as these two Nodes satellites. The Nodes spacecraft were taken to the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2015 via the fourth Orbital ATK cargo mission. Nodes will be deployed into low-Earth orbit from the ISS in early 2016 and test new network capabilities for operating swarms of spacecraft in the future. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In a unique invitation to develop a new satellite platform, NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program (SSTP) is requesting proposals from industry to provide small spacecraft for its Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator (PTD) missions that will include government-furnished technology payloads for a series of flight demonstrations.

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Ball Completes Integration for NASA GPIM Spacecraft

Ball Aerospace technicians use specialized equipment to build the GPIM satellite so that the space vehicle instruments and thrusters align perfectly with the payload interface. (Credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.)
Ball Aerospace technicians use specialized equipment to build the GPIM satellite so that the space vehicle instruments and thrusters align perfectly with the payload interface. (Credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.)

BOULDER, Colo., Oct. 5, 2015 (Ball Aerospace PR) — Ball Aerospace, prime contractor for NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM), has integrated the propulsion subsystem onto the BCP-100 spacecraft bus and begun system performance and environmental testing as the project heads toward a 2016 launch date.

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Ad Astra Part of Orbital ATK Team Selected for NASA Advance Propulsion Contract

ad_astraWEBSTER, Texas, September 21, 2015 (Ad Astra PR) – Ad Astra Rocket Company is part of a team, led by Orbital ATK, selected by NASA for the RTAPS2 Contract. RTAPS2 provides a contractual vehicle by which selected industry partners can develop, demonstrate and verify advanced propulsion system technologies in support of NASA’s aerospace research programs. NASA developed the RTAPS2 Contract as part of its ongoing, long-term aerospace research activities at the agency’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The competitive process was initiated in the spring of 2015 and concluded in late July.

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