Laser-based Navigation Sensor Could Be Standard for Planetary Landing Missions

Bruce Barnes, who does electronics engineering and system integration for the Navigation Doppler Lidar, makes final preparations to the sensor in a lab at NASA's Langley Research Center. (Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman)
Bruce Barnes, who does electronics engineering and system integration for the Navigation Doppler Lidar, makes final preparations to the sensor in a lab at NASA’s Langley Research Center. (Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — A laser-guided navigation sensor that could help future rovers make safe, precise landings on Mars or destinations beyond will soon undergo testing in California’s Mojave Desert.

The Navigation Doppler Lidar, or NDL, which was developed at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, will be flight tested aboard a rocket-powered Vertical Take-off, Vertical Landing (VTVL) platform, named Xodiac, developed by Masten Space Systems, in Mojave, California.

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NASA & Contractors Developing New Astronaut Gloves

David Clark Company’s unique spacesuit pressure restraint. (Credit: David Clark Company)
David Clark Company’s unique spacesuit pressure restraint. (Credit: David Clark Company)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Over the summer of 2016, the Next Generation Life Support (NGLS) project received delivery from three industry partners of several new promising spacesuit technologies, namely for advancing glove designs and capabilities. Glove prototypes incorporating these technologies are now undergoing testing and performance evaluation under increased operating pressures and in the more challenging environments expected during future space exploration.

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Final Frontier Design Delivers MCP Gloves to NASA

Closeup screenshot of FFD’s pressure visualization and video documentation setup. (Credit: Final Frontier Design)
Closeup screenshot of FFD’s pressure visualization and video documentation setup. (Credit: Final Frontier Design)

BROOKLYN, NY, October 28, 2016 (FFD PR) – Final Frontier Design (FFD) has delivered a pair of functional Mechanical Counter Pressure (MCP) gloves to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. This marks a major milestone in FFD’s fixed-price contract with NASA for MCP gloves and represents a promising alternative in space suit pressure garment design.

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Astronauts, Mission Control Simulate Starliner Commercial Crew Flight

Commerical Crew Program astronauts Bob Behnken and Eric Boe perfoming and on-console simulation of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner at Johnson Space Center. (Credit: NASA)
Commerical Crew Program astronauts Bob Behnken and Eric Boe perfoming and on-console simulation of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner at Johnson Space Center. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Commercial Crew Program astronauts Bob Behnken and Eric Boe joined flight director Richard Jones and his NASA/Boeing flight control team in the first Mission Control Center, Houston, on-console simulation of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner launch, climb to orbit and post-orbital insertion timeline.

The ascent simulation included a training team inserting problems remotely from a nearby building, which allowed the team to follow checklists and procedures to solve issues that could arise during a dynamic, real-flight situation.

Boeing has an agreement in place with NASA’s Johnson Space Center to provide flight control and facility expertise in managing missions of the Starliner and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Simulations covering all aspects of human space flight control have been conducted for every human space flight and prepare the astronauts and flight controllers for the real flights.

Behnken and Boe along with Doug Hurley and Suni Williams are integrated as a group with Boeing and SpaceX on its Dragon crew vehicle through the development phase and first test flights. Specific crew assignments have not yet been announced. Read more about the advances NASA’s Commercial Crew Program have made in 2016: http://go.nasa.gov/24QDPuA

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NASA, DLR Fund Long Duration Astronaut Health Research

Crew members for the current simulation missions stand in front of the NASA Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA). HERA 10 “launched” on May 2 for a 30-day mission to the near-Earth asteroid “Geographos.” The crew members are (left to right): Chris Matty of Houston, Texas; Oscar Mathews of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Ron Franco of Lockport, New York; and Casey Stedman of Olympia, Washington. (Credit: NASA) Subject: Crew photo for HERA 10 crew. Photographer: Bill Stafford
Crew members for the current simulation missions stand in front of the NASA Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA). HERA 10 “launched” on May 2 for a 30-day mission to the near-Earth asteroid “Geographos.” The crew members are (left to right): Chris Matty of Houston, Texas; Oscar Mathews of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Ron Franco of Lockport, New York; and Casey Stedman of Olympia, Washington. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR — NASA’s Human Research Program and the German Space Agency (DLR) will fund six proposals to investigate possible changes in the behavioral health and performance of astronauts on future deep space exploration missions. The selected proposals aim to address the impact of the spaceflight environment on various aspects of astronaut health, including cognition, sleep loss and team functioning. This work is helping NASA develop the knowledge and countermeasures necessary to ensure astronauts remain healthy as we venture beyond low-Earth orbit to visit an asteroid and eventually the journey to Mars.

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Gene Analysis System Could Accelerate Pace of Research on Space Station

NASA astronaut and Expedition 47 Flight Engineer Jeff Williams works with the WetLab-2 system aboard the International Space Station. WetLab-2 is a research platform for conducting real-time quantitative PCR for gene expression analysis aboard the ISS. The system enables spaceflight genomic studies involving a wide variety of biospecimen types in the unique microgravity environment of space. (Credit: NASA)
NASA astronaut and Expedition 47 Flight Engineer Jeff Williams works with the WetLab-2 system aboard the International Space Station. WetLab-2 is a research platform for conducting real-time quantitative PCR for gene expression analysis aboard the ISS. The system enables spaceflight genomic studies involving a wide variety of biospecimen types in the unique microgravity environment of space. (Credit: NASA)

by Sandy Dueck and Gianine Figliozzi
Space Biosciences Division
NASA’s Ames Research Center

Biologists around the world routinely perform gene expression analysis to better understand living systems. Gene expression analysis examines the types and amounts of molecules produced by genes in living cells, telling us which genes are active and which are inactive at a given point in time. This reveals valuable information about the highly dynamic internal states of cells in living systems. NASA’s WetLab-2 hardware system is bringing to the International Space Station the technology to measure gene expression of biological specimens in space, and to transmit the results to researchers on Earth at the speed of light.

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NASA, Boeing, SpaceX Outline Objectives to Station Flights

NASA's Stephanie Schierholz introduces the panel of Johnson Space Center Director Dr. Ellen Ochoa, seated, left, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders, Boeing's John Elbon, SpaceX's Gwynne Shotwell and NASA astronaut Mike Fincke. (Credit: NASA TV)
NASA’s Stephanie Schierholz introduces the panel of Johnson Space Center Director Dr. Ellen Ochoa, seated, left, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders, Boeing’s John Elbon, SpaceX’s Gwynne Shotwell and NASA astronaut Mike Fincke. (Credit: NASA TV)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

American spacecraft systems testing followed by increasingly complex flight tests and ultimately astronauts flying orbital flights will pave the way to operational missions during the next few years to the International Space Station. Those were the plans laid out Monday by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program officials and partners as they focus on developing safe, reliable and cost-effective spacecraft and systems that will take astronauts to the station from American launch complexes.

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Did NASA Engineers Just Confirm a Major Propulsion Breakthrough?

EmDrive (Credit: Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd.)
EmDrive (Credit: Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd.)

Gizmodo has a fascinating story about NASA scientists who appear to have proven that Roger Shawyer’s quantum vacuum plasma thruster, known as the EmDrive (a.k.a., Relativity Drive), actually works. But, they’re not sure exactly why.

Shawyer’s engine is extremely light and simple. It provides a thrust by “bouncing microwaves around in a closed container.” The microwaves are generated using electricity that can be provided by solar energy. No propellant is necessary, which means that this thrusters can work forever unless a hardware failure occurs. If real, this would be a major breakthrough in space propulsion technology.

Obviously, the entire thing sounded preposterous to everyone. In theory, this thing shouldn’t work at all. So people laughed and laughed and ignored him. Everyone except a team of Chinese scientists. They built one in 2009 and it worked: They were able to produce 720 millinewton, which is reportedly enough to build a satellite thruster. And still, nobody else believed it.

Now, American scientist Guido Fetta and a team at NASA Eagleworks—the advanced propulsion skunkworks led by Dr Harold “Sonny” White at the Johnson Space Center—have published a new paper that demonstrates that a similar engine working on the same principles does indeed produce thrust. Their model, however, produces much less thrust—just 30 to 50 micronewtons. But it works, which is amazing on its own. They haven’t explained why their engine works, but it does work.

Read the full story.

Fungi Research Conducted in Space

The study’s lead author Aurélie Crabbé (left), Cheryl Nickerson (Principal Investigator and senior author on the study) and co-author Jennifer Barrila (right) of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology. (Credit: Arizona State University/Anais Bon)
The study’s lead author Aurélie Crabbé (left), Cheryl Nickerson (Principal Investigator and senior author on the study) and co-author Jennifer Barrila (right) of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology. (Credit: Arizona State University/Anais Bon)

TEMPE, Ariz. (NASA PR) — You may not recognize it by name, but if you have ever had a child with a diaper rash, that child was likely a host to Candida albicans (C. albicans). This unwelcome “guest” can be hard to control, as it can potentially lead to serious illness in humans with weakened immune systems. During an investigation dubbed “Microbe,” using the unique microgravity environment aboard space shuttle Atlantis on an International Space Station mission, researchers at the Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe gained a better understanding of these prevalent fungi. Their tendency to become more aggressive in microgravity helps scientists see what mechanisms control the behavior of these types of organisms, with the potential to develop ways to influence their behavior both in space and on Earth.

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International Space Station to Beam Video Via Laser Back to Earth

NASA_OPALS_on_ISS
An artist’s rendering shows the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS). (Credit: OPALS)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — What’s more interesting than videos of cats chasing laser beams over the kitchen floor? How about videos sent OVER laser beams from NASA’s International Space Station back to Earth?

A team of about 20 working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif., through the lab’s Phaeton early-career-hire program, led the development of the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) investigation, which is preparing for a March 16 launch to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX-3 mission. The goal? NASA’s first optical communication experiment on the orbital laboratory.

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Physical Science Research Proposals Selected for Cold Atom Laboratory

The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth's atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)
The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Physical Science Research Program will fund seven proposals to conduct physics research using the agency’s new microgravity laboratory, which is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station in 2016.

NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) will provide an opportunity to study ultra-cold quantum gases in the microgravity environment of the space station — a frontier in scientific research that is expected to reveal interesting and novel quantum phenomena. Five of the selected proposals will involve flight experiments using the CAL aboard the space station, and two call for ground-based research to help NASA plan for future flight experiments.

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NASA Tests Modified “Pumpkin” Spacesuit for Future Asteroid Mission

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA is taking steps to make spacewalking on an asteroid a reality. In the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) near the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, engineers are testing a modified version of the pumpkin-orange Advanced Crew Escape System (ACES) worn by space shuttle astronauts during launch and reentry for use by future crew in the Orion spacecraft.

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NASA JSC Opens Technology Acceleration Center

NASA LOGOHOUSTON (NASA PR) – NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the Houston Technology Center have officially opened the doors to the JSC Acceleration Center at the Johnson Space Center.

The JSC Acceleration Center provides onsite offices to enhance collaboration for business growth and future technology development under an agreement with the Houston Technology Center (HTC).

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NewSpace 2012: NASA Leadership Roundtable

NewSpace 2012 Conference
NASA Leadership Roundtable

  • Rebecca Keiser (Moderator) — Associate Deputy Administrator for Strategy and Policy, NASA
  • Robert Cabana — Director, NASA Kennedy Space Center
  • Ramon Lugo — Director, NASA Glenn Research Center
  • Ellen Ochoa — Deputy Director, NASA Johnson Space Center
  • Pete Worden — Director, NASA Ames Research Center

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SNC Highlights Support of NASA JSC for Dream Chaser

Sparks, NV – (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems has signed several Space Act Agreements (SAA) with NASA’s Johnson Space Center dating back to May 2011 to assist in both the technical development of, and operations support for, the Dream Chaser®Space System.  SNC has received funding awards from NASA in both rounds of the Commercial Crew Development Program and has chosen to re-invest capital back into the space agency through SAAs with individual Centers, including Houston’s Johnson Space Center, to leverage NASA’s experience and expertise in human spaceflight.

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