NASA Marshall Advances 3-D Printed Rocket Engine Nozzle Technology

Through hot-fire testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, engineers put this nozzle through its paces, accumulating more than 1,040 seconds at high combustion chamber pressures and temperatures. Now, this technology is being licensed and considered in commercial applications across the industry. (Credits: NASA/MSFC/David Olive)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Rocket engine nozzles operate in extreme temperatures and pressures from the combustion process and are complex and expensive to manufacture. That is why a team of engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, developed and proved out a new additive manufacturing technique for nozzle fabrication that can greatly reduce costs and development time.


A Closer Look at National Space Council User’s Advisory Group Nominees

So, I finally had a chance to go through folks that Vice President Mike Pence nominated to serve on the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group.

Below is my attempt to break down the 29 nominees by category. It’s far from perfect because several of them could easily be listed under multiple categories. But, here’s my best shot at it.


NASA Announces Ninth Round of Candidates for CubeSat Space Missions

Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 11 small research satellites from seven states and Puerto Rico to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard space missions planned to launch in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

The selections are part of the ninth round of the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative. CubeSats are a type of spacecraft called nanosatellites, often measuring about four inches on each side and weighing less than three pounds, with a volume of about one quart. CubeSats are built using these standard dimensions as Units or “U”, and are classified as 1U, 2U, 3U, or 6U in total size.


NASA to Outline Plans Next Week

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA centers across the country are opening their doors Monday, Feb. 12, to media and social media for “State of NASA” events, including a speech from acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, and unique opportunities for a behind-the-scenes look at the agency’s work. These events follow President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal delivery to the U.S. Congress.

Events at NASA centers will include media tours and presentations on the agency’s exploration goals for the Moon, Mars and worlds beyond, the innovative technologies developed and under development, as well as the scientific discoveries made as NASA explores and studies Earth and our universe, and continues to make advancements in next-generation air travel.


NASA Experiments with Kilopower Fission Reactor

Kilopower reactor (Credit: NASA)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — When astronauts someday venture to the Moon, Mars and other destinations, one of the first and most important resources they will need is power. A reliable and efficient power system will be essential for day-to-day necessities, such as lighting, water and oxygen, and for mission objectives, like running experiments and producing fuel for the long journey home.

That’s why NASA is conducting experiments on Kilopower, a new power source that could provide safe, efficient and plentiful energy for future robotic and human space exploration missions.


NASA Deep Space Exploration Systems Look Ahead to Busy 2018

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Engineers preparing NASA’s deep space exploration systems to support missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond are gearing up for a busy 2018. The agency aims to complete the manufacturing of all the major hardware by the end of the year for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), which will pave the road for future missions with astronauts.

Planes, trains, trucks and ships will move across America and over oceans to deliver hardware for assembly and testing of components for the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket while teams at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida prepare the Ground Systems infrastructure. Testing will take place from the high seas to the high skies and in between throughout the year and across the country, not only in support of EM-1, but also for all subsequent missions.

NASA Selects 3 Companies to Develop Prototype Space FabLab

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA is taking the next step in the development of a space-based, on-demand fabrication capability by partnering with three U.S. companies, under NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program, to create prototypes.

The selected companies are: Interlog Corporation of Anaheim, California; Techshot, Inc. of Greeneville, Indiana; and Tethers Unlimited, Inc. of Bothell, Washington. Combined funding for the awards is approximately $10.2 million. These companies will have 18 months to deliver the prototype, after which NASA will select partners to further mature the technologies.


NASA Opens $2 Million Third Phase of 3D-Printed Habitat Competition

HUNTVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond will require innovative options to shelter our explorers, and we won’t be able to carry all of the materials with us from Earth. NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, a Centennial Challenges competition, seeks ways to create or develop the technologies needed to create such habitats on-site, and challenges citizen inventors to lead the way. Today, NASA and challenge partner Bradley University of Peoria, Illinois, announce the opening of Phase 3 of the competition for team registration.

“The ideas and technologies this competition has already produced are encouraging, and we are excited to see what this next phase will bring,” said Monsi Roman, program manager of NASA’s Centennial Challenges. “The solutions we seek from our competitions are revolutionary, which by nature makes them extremely difficult. But this only fuels our teams to work harder to innovate and solve.”


Dawn Mission Extended at Ceres

Artist’s concept of Dawn above Ceres around the time it was captured into orbit by the dwarf planet in early March. Since its arrival, the spacecraft turned around to point the blue glow of its ion engine in the opposite direction. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has authorized a second extension of the Dawn mission at Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. During this extension, the spacecraft will descend to lower altitudes than ever before at the dwarf planet, which it has been orbiting since March 2015. The spacecraft will continue at Ceres for the remainder of its science investigation and will remain in a stable orbit indefinitely after its hydrazine fuel runs out.


SwRI Scientists Dig into the Origin of Organics on Ceres

SwRI scientists are studying the geology associated with the organic-rich areas on Ceres. Dawn spacecraft data show a region around the Ernutet crater where organic concentrations have been discovered (background image). The color coding shows the surface concentration of organics, as inferred from the visible and near infrared spectrometer. The inset shows a higher resolution enhanced color image of the Ernutet crater acquired by Dawn’s framing camera. Regions in red indicate higher concentration of organics. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/ASI/INAF/MPS/DLR/IDA)

SAN ANTONIO, October 18, 2017 (SwRI PR) – Since NASA’s Dawn spacecraft detected localized organic-rich material on Ceres, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has been digging into the data to explore different scenarios for its origin. After considering the viability of comet or asteroid delivery, the preponderance of evidence suggests the organics are most likely native to Ceres.


NASA Develops New Housing for In-Orbit Science Payloads

Boeing engineers, Chris Chapman, left, Greg Clark, center, and Ashesh Patel, right, perform air flow balance testing on NASA’s new Basic Express Racks. The racks, developed at Marshall Space Flight Center, will expand the capabilities for science research aboard the International Space Station. Delivery to the station is scheduled for late 2018. (Credits: NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Imagine cramming 20 years’ worth of science experiments — each requiring resources such as water, electricity and data connections — into a few closets in your home. For the crew members aboard the International Space Station, this is a reality. Thanks to an increase in investigations coming in through the National Lab and more demand for exploration technology development payloads, the space station is going to have to make room for a whole new wardrobe.


NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid CubeSat Goes Full Sail

When fully deployed, NEA Scout’s solar sail is the length of a school bus. This sail is used to reflect sunlight to use as propulsion for the satellite as it moves through space, minimizing the need for fuel and paving the way for deep-space exploration missions. (Credits: NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.  (NASA PR) — NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, a small satellite the size of a shoebox, designed to study asteroids close to Earth, performed a full-scale solar sail deployment test at ManTech NeXolve’s facility in Huntsville, Alabama, Sept. 13. The test was performed in an indoor clean room to ensure the deployment mechanism’s functionality after recent environmental testing.


VP Pence to Visit NASA Marshall on Monday

Mike Pence

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Vice President Mike Pence will visit NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Monday, Sept. 25. The Vice President will tour Marshall to get an update on the progress of the Space Launch System rocket and International Space Station science operations as the agency prepares for missions to deep space, around the Moon and ultimately to Mars.

The Vice President will tour Marshall’s Payload Operations Integration Facility, where all scientific research aboard the station is managed around-the-clock, 365 days a year. This research is helping people learn how to live and work in space for long periods. The Vice President will see a test with the engine section of the Space Launch System (SLS) core stage –the largest rocket stage ever built for the world’s most powerful rocket. The four RS-25 engines and the two solid rocket boosters that attach to the engine section will produce more than 8 million pounds of thrust to help send the Orion crew vehicle farther than any human-rated spacecraft has ever travelled before.

While at Redstone Arsenal, where Marshall is located, Vice President Pence will visit the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center for briefs from Army leaders on current missile defense projects and Army initiatives. Redstone Arsenal is an Army installation with a workforce of around 41,000 active duty military, government civilians and contractors. The arsenal is a Federal Center of Excellence, hosting components of more than 70 government organizations, including NASA, Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency, FBI, and Department of Justice.

Get more information about Redstone Arsenal at:

Get more information about how Marshall Space Flight Center is hard at work building the SLS rocket and the technologies and systems needed to send astronauts into deep space at:

NASA’s Asteroid-Bound Spacecraft to Slingshot Past Earth

This artist’s concept shows the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft passing by Earth.
(Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security – Regolith Explorer), will pass about 11,000 miles (17,000 kilometers) above Earth just before 12:52 p.m. EDT on Friday, Sept. 22. Using Earth as a slingshot, the spacecraft will receive an assist to complete its journey to the asteroid Bennu.


NASA’s Space Act Agreements with SpaceX, Boeing, ULA & Sierra Nevada

NASA has released a document listing the 1,206 active Space Act Agreements (SAAs) the agency has with commercial companies, non-profit organizations and state and local governments.

From that list, I’ve extracted agreements with individual companies. Below you will find tables listing SAAs that NASA has signed with SpaceX, Boeing, United Launch Alliance and Sierra Nevada Corporation. The four companies have been involved with NASA’s Commercial Crew and Commercial Resupply Services programs.

SAAs come in three varieties: reimburseable, non-reimburseable and funded. Under reimburseable agreements, a company or organization will pay NASA for its services. No money exchanges hands under non-reimburseable agrements. And under funded agreements, NASA pays the company to perform work or provide services. (The space agency made substantial use of SAA’s in the Commercial Crew Program.)