Fiber Optic Sensing System Readied for Space Use

Allen Parker, Fiber Optic Sensing System (FOSS) senior research engineer at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, and Jonathan Lopez show how FOSS in aeronautics is used on a wing to determine its shape and stress on its structure. (Credits: NASA/Ken Ulbrich)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA will soon test an enhanced system that can take thousands of measurements along a fiber optic wire about the thickness of a human hair for use in space. In the future the technology could monitor spacecraft systems during missions to the Moon and landings on Mars.

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Students Develop Innovative Lunar Exploration Concepts in NASA’s Artemis Competition

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Two university teams have taken top honors in NASA’s 2020 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) competition, which culminated in a virtual forum June 16-18.

The RASC-AL competition is an annual university-level engineering design challenge that allows students to work on real challenges and provide innovative solutions that can be used to advance human exploration of space.

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NASA Fosters Innovative Ways to Understand Biodiversity

Drawing on data from multiple satellite missions (not all collected at the same time), a team of NASA scientists and graphic artists created layers of global data for everything from the land surface, to polar sea ice, to the light reflected by the chlorophyll in the billions of microscopic plants that grow in the ocean. (Credits: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Reto Stöckli)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — The Yellow-billed Cuckoo has soft brown wings, a white belly, a long tail with black and white spots, and is running out of places to live. The cuckoo’s population in its native breeding range in the eastern United States has declined in recent decades due to urbanization, heat waves and other factors. Climate change will likely further reduce its suitable habitat.

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NIAC Award: Advanced Aerocapture System for Enabling Faster-Larger Planetary Science & Human Exploration Missions

Discrete Magnets Positioned Circumferentially and Coaxially on the Forebody for Steering and Mitigating Heat Flux. (Credits: Robert Moses)

NASA Advanced Innovative Concepts (NIAC)
Phase I Award

Amount: $125,000

Advanced Aerocapture System for Enabling Faster-Larger Planetary Science & Human Exploration Missions

Robert Moses
NASA Langley Research Center

Aerocapture offers huge potential increases in science return by allowing the ability to deliver larger payloads, enabling faster transits of existing instruments, or offering flexibility to integrate payloads onto a single and perhaps cheaper launch vehicle. Previous calculations quantified the cost and delivered mass advantages of aerocapture for eleven representative missions for eight possible destinations in our solar system.

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NASA Goes BIG, Selects University Teams to Build Technologies for the Moon’s Darkest Areas

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Almost a quarter of a million miles away from home, the Moon’s permanently shadowed regions are the closest extraterrestrial water source. These craters have remained dark for billions of years, but student-developed technologies can help shine light on all they have to offer.

Through the competitive Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge and the Space Grant project, NASA has awarded nearly $1 million to eight university teams to build sample lunar payloads and demonstrate innovative ways to study the Moon’s darkest areas.

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NASA Funds Demonstration of Assembly and Manufacturing in Space

SPIDER on the Restore-L satellite. (Credit: Maxar Technologies)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded a $142 million contract to Maxar Technologies of Westminster, Colorado, to robotically assemble a communications antenna and manufacture a spacecraft beam in orbit. The technology demonstration is slated to take place on NASA’s Restore-L spacecraft, designed to service and refuel a satellite in low-Earth orbit.

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Prototype Vest Could Help Protect Astronauts on Trips to Moon, Mars

Crystal Chamberlain, a technician at NASA’s Langley Research Center, works in a sewing lab to piece together a radiation protection vest prototype. (Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA has overcome many difficult engineering challenges when it comes to human spaceflight – one that remains is how to best protect astronauts from space radiation.

A team at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia is working on one potential solution – a next-generation wearable radiation protection garment to protect against solar particle events.

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Bobby Braun to Join JPL to Head Planetary Exploration Program

Bobby Braun (Credit: CU Boulder)

Former NASA chief technologist Bobby Braun will be re-joining the space agency in January as the leader of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) center’s planetary exploration program.

Braun, who serves as dean of the University of Colorado (UC) Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, will serve as a member of JPL’s leadership team.

In an internal memo, center Director Michael Watkins said Braun’s 30 years of experience with the JPL and NASA planetary missions, including the Mars Pathfinder lander, would be a great asset in implementing a planned overhaul of the lab’s Mars and planetary exploration programs.

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SNC Partners With NASA to Advance Moon, Mars Technology

Dream Chaser lands (Credit: NASA)

SPARKS, Nev. October 2, 2019 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader owned by Chairwoman and President Eren Ozmen and CEO Fatih Ozmen, is extending its partnership with NASA to two entry, descent and landing projects designed to improve affordability and safety of current and future missions.  The first will test recoverability of the upper stage of a rocket using a deployable decelerator, and the second involves thermal imaging of SNC’s Dream Chaser® during reentry and landing.

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NASA Inflatable Heat Shield Technology Performs Under Pressure

LOFTID pack and deployment testing started with a load test to verify that the heat shield will perform as expected in flight under real-life conditions. (Credits: NASA)

SANTA ANA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Testing is well underway as NASA’s LOFTID – short for Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator – prepares to catch a ride on an Atlas V rocket launch in 2022.

LOFTID is a cross-cutting technology designed to help deliver heavy cargos to any planet with an atmosphere.

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NASA to Test Sensors for Precision Moon Landings on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable, suborbital rocket. (Credits: Blue Origin)

NASA Contract Award
NASA Langley Research Center
Hampton, Virginia

Blue Origin, LLC
Kent, Washington
Amount: $1,301,743

Synopsis:

The work will include the integration of NASA developed technology into Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch vehicle, providing opportunities to mature critical sensor technology and algorithms that enable precision and soft landing. Testing will be performed at approximately 100 km altitude on-board the flight proven New Shepard vertical takeoff vertical landing (VTVL) suborbital vehicle.

Blue Origin and NASA will use the flight data to anchor analyses and models and support follow-on ground-based algorithm testing and development. The NASA-developed sensor suite will enable Blue Moon to precisely land anywhere on the lunar surface, from the equator to the poles, from the rim of Shackleton crater to permanently shadowed regions, from the far side locations on the South Pole/Aitken basin to lunar lava tubes.

This contract addresses three high-level technology objectives:

1. Demonstrate the performance of NASA-developed precision landing sensor and processing technology (including, but not limited to, Descent Landing Computer (DLC), Navigation Doppler Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR, NDL) and Landing Vision System (LVS) in an operating envelope (altitude, velocity, and vehicle environments) from space environments through soft propulsive landing operations on a commercial vehicle (the New Shepard Propulsion Module).

2. Demonstrate a commercial guidance and navigation system for safe and accurate lunar landings using NASA-developed Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) and Hazard Detection and Avoidance (HDA) algorithms as part of a Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) simulation environment.

3. Develop and demonstrate a Flash LiDAR (FL) prototype for hazard detection derived from NASA-developed Flash LiDAR sensor design.