Tag: NASA

NASA Releases NextSTEP Broad Agency Announcement

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NextStep_logoWASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In an effort to stimulate deep space capability development across the aerospace industry, NASA plans to release the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Broad Agency Announcement.

» View the synopsis here

The BAA will seek proposals for concept studies and technology development projects in three key areas: advanced propulsion, habitation, and small satellites.

NASA has increasingly embraced public-private partnerships to expand the frontiers of knowledge, capability, and opportunities in space. The next step for human spaceflight is the development of deep space exploration capabilities to support more extensive missions in the proving ground — around and beyond cis-lunar space.

An important part of NASA’s strategy is to stimulate the commercial space industry while leveraging those same commercial capabilities through future contracts and public-private partnerships to deliver mission capabilities.

The BAA will be open to non-Government U.S. institutions (companies, universities, nonprofit organizations) and foreign institutions.

Judge Knocks Down SNC’s Motion for Commercial Crew Work Stoppage

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Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

A Federal Court of Claims judge has rejected a motion by the Sierra Nevada Corporation to re-impose a stop-work order on NASA’s commercial crew program, according to press reports. It is not immediately clear why Judge Marian Blank Horn rejected the motion.

NASA has initially ordered Boeing and SpaceX to stop work on commercial crew contracts the agency awarded the two companies while the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed an appeal by Sierra Nevada, which did not receive an award.

However, NASA later lifted the order, saying any delay would imperil efforts to keep the commercial crew program on schedule and meet its commitments for operating the International Space Station. Sierra Nevada subsequently appealed that decision.

The GAO has until Jan. 5 to rule on Sierra Nevada’s appeal of the commercial crew awards.

Boeing Completes CDR on CST-100 Spacecraft

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Artist concept of CST-100 and Atlas V on launch pad. (Credit: Boeing)

Artist concept of CST-100 and Atlas V on launch pad. (Credit: Boeing)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Boeing has successfully completed the final milestone of its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Space Act Agreement with NASA. The work and testing completed under the agreement resulted in significant maturation of Boeing’s crew transportation system, including the CST-100 spacecraft and Atlas V rocket.

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Ball Aerospace Green Propellant Infusion Mission to Host 3 DOD Experiments

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Artist rendition of NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) that will demonstrate and test the capabilities of a high-performance, non-toxic, “green” fuel on orbit. (Credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.)

Artist rendition of NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) that will demonstrate and test the capabilities of a high-performance, non-toxic, “green” fuel on orbit. (Credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.)

BOULDER, Colo (Ball Aerospace PR) – The NASA and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) will fly three Defense Department experimental hosted payloads when it launches in 2016. GPIM’s mission will validate a non-toxic fuel for future satellite missions, which could replace hydrazine and provide additional performance benefits.

The Department of Defense (DOD) Space Experiments Review Board (SERB) selected the three payloads to fly on GPIM. The SERB chooses experiments based on a high potential to provide new or enhanced warfighting capabilities for the DOD.

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NASA Engineers Work to Perfect Aeroshell Technology

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NASA researchers have tested an almost 20-foot inflatable spacecraft heat shield in wind tunnels and laboratories. (Credit:  NASA/Kathy Barnstorff)

NASA researchers have tested an almost 20-foot inflatable spacecraft heat shield in wind tunnels and laboratories. (Credit: NASA/Kathy Barnstorff)

HAMPTON, Virg. (NASA PR) — For most of us it’s hard to imagine that something that is inflated can survive the high heat and friction of space travel, especially atmospheric entry.

But a group of NASA engineers, primarily based at NASA’s Langley Research Center, have been working to develop inflatable spacecraft aeroshell technology for more than a decade.

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Court Holds Initial Hearing on Sierra Nevada’s Effort to Reimpose Commercial Crew Stop Work Order

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Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Marian Blank Horn heard initial arguments on Friday on a motion by Sierra Nevada Corporation to stop Boeing and SpaceX from continuing work on recently awarded NASA commercial crew contracts pending an appeal of the awards.

The judge did not rule on the motion, but set an additional hearing on Tuesday to hear further arguments, according to press reports.

Sierra Nevada has appealed the awards NASA has made to Boeing and SpaceX citing alleged irregularities in the process. NASA’s decisions left Sierra Nevada without additional government funding to complete its Dream Chaser shuttle.

NASA initially ordered Boeing and SpaceX to stop work under the contracts, but the space agency later reversed its decision. Sierra Nevada is seeking to reinstate the stop work order.

The Government Accountability Office has until early January to rule on Sierra Nevada’s protest of NASA’s commercial crew awards.

NASA Cancels Troubled Sunjammer Solar Sail Project

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Sunjammer solar sail

Sunjammer solar sail

Space News reports that NASA has canceled the Sunjammer solar sail mission:

Citing a lack of confidence in its contractor’s ability to deliver, NASA has abandoned plans to fly a solar-sail mission in 2015 after investing four years and more than $21 million on the project.

The Sunjammer mission, including the spacecraft and a deployable 1,200-square-meter solar sail, was being developed by L’Garde Inc. of Tustin, California, under a contract awarded in September 2011. The contract is slated to expire this coming December, and NASA has no plans to continue the work, according to an internal memo circulated at NASA headquarters here the week of Oct. 7.

“NASA is working with L’Garde to de-scope the existing contract to close out the documentation and deliver completed work to the Agency by the end of 2014,” the memo reads….

Nathan Barnes, president of L’Garde, said in an Oct. 17 phone interview that the company’s final delivery to NASA will be a design for a spacecraft module and solar sail that in theory could propel a small spacecraft by harnessing the energy of photon strikes. L’Garde will turn over its design in a Critical Design Audit scheduled for Nov. 7, he said.

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Intuitive Machines Funded for ISS Sample Return Vehicle

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Terrestrial Return Vehicle (Credit: Intuitive Machines)

Terrestrial Return Vehicle (Credit: Intuitive Machines)

HOUSTON (Intuitive Machines PR) – Intuitive Machines in cooperation with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been selected by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to develop a Terrestrial Return Vehicle (TRV) that will enable on demand, rapid return of experiments from the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory.

Through this commercial service, Intuitive Machines will enable researchers to regularly and quickly return small samples and components from the ISS to Earth. The timely delivery of critical or perishable samples is essential in enabling new and exciting research aboard the ISS National Laboratory.

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NASA Captures Falcon 9 Descent Data to Help With Planetary Exploration

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WASHINGTON (NASA PR) – NASA successfully captured thermal images of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its descent after it launched in September from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The data from these thermal images may provide critical engineering information for future missions to the surface of Mars.

“Because the technologies required to land large payloads on Mars are significantly different than those used here on Earth, investment in these technologies is critical,” said Robert Braun, principal investigator for NASA’s Propulsive Descent Technologies (PDT) project and professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. “This is the first high-fidelity data set of a rocket system firing into its direction of travel while traveling at supersonic speeds in Mars-relevant conditions. Analysis of this unique data set will enable system engineers to extract important lessons for the application and infusion of supersonic retro-propulsion into future NASA missions.”

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Obama Nominates Dava Newman for NASA Deputy Administrator

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Dava Newman in the Man Vehicle Lab with the robot she uses to test next generation space suits. (Credit: William Litant)

Dava Newman in the Man Vehicle Lab with the robot she uses to test next generation space suits. (Credit: William Litant)

President Barack Obama has nominated Dr. Dava Newman for the post of Deputy Administrator of NASA, a position that was left open by the departure of Lori Garver in September 2013.

Newman is best known in the space community for her working in designing a shrink-wrap type pressure suit called the BioSuit.

The White House provided the following biographical information in its press release:

Dr. Dava Newman is a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She first joined the MIT faculty in 1993 and has held a number of different faculty positions since then. Dr. Newman is a Harvard-MIT Health, Sciences and Technology faculty member and became a MacVicar Faculty Fellow in 2000. She is also the Director of the MIT Portugal Program, Director of the Technology and Policy Program, and Co-Director of the Man-Vehicle Laboratory at MIT. From 1992 to 1993, she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Houston. Dr. Newman received a B.S. from the University of Notre Dame and two S.M.s and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.